From: Defence Media
Sent: Sat 21/03/2015 10:21 AM

Chief of the Defence Force welcomes home Afghanistan veterans

Australian Defence Force personnel joined colleagues from the Australian Federal Police, the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade and other government agencies on parade across the country today to mark the end of Australia’s longest military operation.

Operation Slipper commenced in October 2001 and formally ended on 31 December 2014.

“Today’s parades were an important opportunity for the community to acknowledge the important contribution of more than 34,500 Australians who deployed to Afghanistan over the past 14 years.

“These men and women were part of the international fight against terrorism and they trained and mentored the Afghan National Security Forces to help the people of Afghanistan establish a solid foundation for a better future.

“Together, they have made a lasting contribution to improve the quality of life in Uruzgan province and given the people of Afghanistan hope and the opportunity for a safer, more prosperous future.

“While the Afghans still have challenges ahead, there is a genuine appreciation for the work we have done and continue to do for the people of Afghanistan,” Air Chief Marshal Binskin said.

Today’s commemorative events also honoured the 41 Australian soldiers who died in Afghanistan.

“We can never repay our debt to these men or their families, but we take pride in what they helped to achieve and we will honour them by continuing the work they started.

Air Chief Marshal Binskin told the parade in Canberra he was acutely aware that many veterans carried physical and mental scars from operations in Afghanistan.

“Every person who goes to war is changed by the experience in some way so while Operation Slipper is now complete, our commitment to the men and women who helped us achieve our mission continues.

“I want to assure all of you that I, and the senior command team, will do all that is necessary to ensure you receive the health care and support you need and that assistance is also available to your family.”

Air Chief Marshal Binskin also thanked Defence families for their support to deployed personnel.

Media note: Imagery from the Canberra parade will be available at: http://images.defence.gov.au/S20150641

Historic Operation SLIPPER imagery is available at: http://images.defence.gov.au/S20150532

Media contact:
Defence Media Operations (02) 6127 1999