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Australian SAS Troops to Afghanistan (Aug 25)

The Special Forces Task Group to be deployed to Afghanistan has been officially farewelled today at Perth’s Campbell Barracks, home of the Special Air Service (SAS) Regiment.

Prime Minister John Howard joined Defence Minister Robert Hill, Chief of the Defence Force Air Chief Marshal Angus Houston and Opposition Leader Kim Beazley in wishing the Task Group every success as it prepares for its deployment.

The Task Group will be deployed for up to one year as part of Australia’s increased commitment to the fight against terrorism.

Senator Hill said the Task Group will be made up of 190 personnel comprising elements of the SAS Regiment, 4th Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment (Commandos), Incident Response Regiment and logistics support.

The majority of personnel will be drawn from units based in Perth and Sydney with other logistics and support personnel drawn from Townsville in Queensland, Darwin and Melbourne. The necessary combat power, logistics, medical support and communications will be deployed to provide appropriate mobility, force protection and logistics support.

"Australia’s Special Forces are among the very best in the world and their specialist capabilities are highly valued by our coalition partners," Senator Hill said.

"The Task Force will be employed in a variety of roles similar to those performed in 2001 including combat patrols of remote regions, reconnaissance and surveillance operations working closely with our Coalition partners.

"It is essential that the international community assist Afghan forces to defeat those who through violent means are seeking to defeat the democratic process.

"Although many security challenges remain, Afghanistan has made remarkable progress since its liberation. The Australian government is proud of the role Australia has played in helping remove the Taliban in Afghanistan.

"We have a strong shared interest in defeating al-Qaeda and in promoting a healthy and stable democracy in Afghanistan.

"The wishes of all Australians are with the group on this important mission to help ensure Afghanistan will hold successful September elections and continue its path to peace, stability and democracy.

"I also thank the families for their understanding, support and incredible strength as these soldiers deploy once again on what is an important but dangerous mission."

Special Forces Task Group Deploy to Afghanistan