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Media Release

Defence
MEDIA RELEASE

 
16/02/2010 MECC 38/10
 
 
 
CPA NNN/YY

Changing of guard for Australian soldiers – mission continues

 

A stronger Afghan National Army 4th Brigade, a visible security presence for Afghan locals in Oruzgan province, education opportunities for local children and a new medical centre, are among the key successes for the Australian soldiers of the Townsville-based Mentoring and Reconstruction Task Force -2 (MRTF-2).

 

After more than eight months of intense operations in Afghanistan, the 730 members of MRTF-2 have officially transferred authority for security, mentoring and reconstruction to the Brisbane-based Mentoring Task Force (MTF-1).

 

The achievements were conducted against the back drop of a threat level which saw the joint Afghan and Australian patrols respond to 43 improvised explosive devices, 27 indirect fire attacks and numerous armed contacts with the Taliban throughout MRTF-2’s deployment.

 

Commanding Officer of MRTF-2, Lieutenant Colonel Andrew Hocking, praised his people who worked tirelessly during their deployment, often in hazardous conditions.

 

“Like most people in Australia, I’m extremely proud of the bravery and dedication shown by my troops over the last eight months,” LTCOL Hocking said.

 

“The MRTF’s Operational Mentor and Liaison Teams who have been mentoring the Afghan National Army provided highly effective joint patrols and, along with the newly established patrol bases, have offered greater security for locals in the Mirabad, Chora and Baluchi valleys.

 

“It has been a great privilege for everyone in the Battle Group to develop the capability of the ANA and ultimately help the people of Oruzgan,” LTCOL Hocking said.

 

Amongst the many successes of MRTF-2 was the discovery of approximately 90 weapons and ammunition caches and 45 improvised explosive devices, which has improved the safety of Afghanistan locals and caused disruption to Taliban insurgent attacks in the region.

 

As well as continuing the mentoring process MRTF-2 maintained the high tempo of reconstruction work set by their predecessors which included the construction of a Waste Management Facility in Tarin Kowt, a boys’ high school and primary school, a medical centre and a 116 metre all weather river crossing.

 

Ongoing projects that will be managed by MTF-1 include the construction of girls’ high schools in Tarin Kowt and Malalai, and redevelopment of the Oruzgan Ministry of Energy and Water compound.

 

With the transfer of authority between the Australian Task Forces, they also took time to remember a fallen mate, Private Benjamin Ranaudo, who was killed by an improvised explosive device in July 2009.

 

29 MRTF-2 members were wounded in the course of operations.

 

With the handover complete, LTCOL Hocking said his troops were looking forward to returning home.

 

“It’s now time for the Battle Group to remember our fallen, rest and rehabilitate with our families and in time, prepare ourselves for any future challenges in the interest of our country,” LTCOL Hocking said.

 

“I wish the men and women of MTF-1 the best of luck.”

 

Media note: Imagery will be available at http://www.defence.gov.au/op/afghanistan/gallery_2010.htm

 

Media contact: Defence Media Liaison: (02) 6127 1999 or 0408 498 664

 
 

Issued by Ministerial and Executive Coordination and Communication,
Department of Defence,
Canberra, ACT
Phone: 02 6127 1999 Fax: 02 6265 6946
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