Aussies still in danger despite end of combat - Afghanistan
'AUSTRALIA'S mission in Afghanistan has changed, not ended' the Defence Force chief told an international meeting overnight.
The Chief of the Defence Force, Air Chief Marshal Mark Binskin reaffirmed Australia's ongoing commitment to Afghanistan at a meeting with military chiefs in Brussels overnight.
The North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) Chiefs of Defence meeting focussed on the international community's ongoing assistance in Afghanistan.
"While there is significant global attention on current operations in Iraq, our mission in Afghanistan has changed, not ended. Australia and our international partners have not forgotten the people of Afghanistan.
"The Afghan National Security Force (ANSF) is a confident and capable force which demonstrated its ability to maintain Afghanistan's security during the historic 2014 Presidential election. Our job is to keep working with them to continue to build and maintain a sustainable security force for the future," Air Chief Marshal Binskin said.
Around 400 Australian Defence Force (ADF) personnel are currently deployed in Afghanistan under Operation HIGHROAD - Australia's contribution to the NATO Resolute Support Mission which began on 1 January 2015.
ADF trainers and mentors are providing advice to further develop the ANSF's future leadership. ADF personnel are currently working with the Afghan National Army Officer Academy in Kabul, leading the 205th Corps Coalition Advisory Team in Kandahar and a small number of Special Forces personnel are working in the Headquarters General Command of Police Special Units in Kabul.
Additional personnel operating in force protection, medical and intelligence roles as well as embedded personnel in headquarters mean Australia remains one of the largest non-NATO contributors in Afghanistan.
"Despite the end of combat operations, ADF personnel are still exposed to danger in this ongoing mission to support our Afghan partners as they continue to build their capacity and capability for Afghanistan's long term security."
Air Chief Marshal Binskin also used the meeting with NATO partner nations to discuss potential opportunities for practical engagement through exercises, strategic dialogue and bilateral exchanges as part of Australia's Enhanced Partnership status with NATO which was announced at the NATO Summit in Wales in September 2014.