Tuesday, 8 June 2010

Released by Defence Media Centre

Two Australian soldiers serving with the 1st Mentoring Task Force in Afghanistan have been killed in action.

The two soldiers from the Brisbane-based 2nd Combat Engineer Regiment died as a result of wounds sustained when an improvised explosive device detonated yesterday morning, Afghanistan time.

They were part of an Australian dismounted patrol conducting operations in the Mirabad Valley region of Oruzgan province.

One of the soldiers was killed at the time of the explosion. The other soldier received emergency first aid from his patrol mates and was subsequently aero-medically evacuated to a nearby ISAF hospital. Sadly, the soldier died from his wounds.

There were no other Australian or Afghan casualties, however, an explosive detection dog also died in the incident.

The Acting Chief of the Defence Force, Lieutenant General David Hurley, said he was deeply saddened by the loss of the two brave soldiers.

“Their role is a dangerous one – seeking out explosive devices and other threats – to keep their colleagues safe. They are fighting a determined enemy in the Taliban, whose aim is to kill and maim coalition soldiers and Afghan security personnel,” Lieutenant General Hurley said.

“To the families and friends of these two soldiers, I also offer my heartfelt sympathies and the full support of the Australian Defence Force, particularly, in the coming days as we prepare to bring these soldiers home.

“The soldiers’ families have asked that their names not be released at this time and I would ask you to respect this request while they grieve.”

The Australian patrol had earlier in the day uncovered three substantial caches of weapons and ammunition including 1,600 rounds of ammunition, 23 rocket propelled grenades, five mortar rounds and fuses.

An investigation will be initiated in order to determine the exact details of the incident.

Thirteen Australian soldiers have been killed in Afghanistan since operations commenced.

Statement of Condolence from the Minister for Defence,
Senator the Honourable John Faulkner

On behalf of the Government of Australia, I offer my sincere condolences to both of these soldiers’ families on the devastating loss they have suffered. Their death is a great loss to our nation. And while all Australians will mourn along with these two families, the immensity of their grief cannot be shared.

Sadly, their sacrifice reminds us that the mission in Afghanistan is extremely dangerous. Everyday the men and women of the ADF on this operation are undertaking critical and hazardous tasks to ensure that their fellow Australians, both here at home and around the world, are safer from the threat of international terrorism. And the manner of their death, from an insidious and indiscriminate Improvised Explosive Device, again shows the callous and truly despicable nature of our enemy.

Two of our finest Australians have been taken from us. These young men were willing, at great risk to themselves, to do whatever it took to protect our nation and our national interests. They were professional, extremely brave and committed to, without hesitation, doing whatever was asked of them, to the very best of their ability. As we mourn their loss we should also honour the fact that they died in the service of our nation.

Media contact:

Michael Nguyen (John Faulkner) – 02 6277 7800 or 0429 571 843

Defence Media Liaison – 02 6127 1999 or 0408 498 664