Monday, 21 June 2010

Released by Defence Media Centre

Statement from the Minister for Defence, Senator John Faulkner

As the Chief of the Defence Force has informed you, our nation today lost three courageous soldiers when a helicopter went down in northern Kandahar. Seven of their colleagues have been wounded, some of them very seriously. One other soldier has been killed and another is wounded.

This is a tragic day for Australia and the Australian Defence Force, and an absolutely devastating day for the families and friends of these brave young men.

The fifteen onboard the helicopter, including ten Australians, were en route to an operation. Going out, as they do, day after day, putting their lives at risk, putting their lives on the line for their country.

This most dangerous theatre of operations has claimed five Australian lives in the past two weeks. It is with very great sadness that we are here today to inform you of these latest casualties.

On behalf of the Australian Government, I express the deepest condolences to the families who have lost their loved ones today.

At this moment of grief and gratitude for the sacrifice made by these brave young men, our thoughts and our profound sympathies are with their families, friends and comrades. This is a time of unthinkable loss for them. These fine young Australian soldiers were also sons, brothers, fathers and friends.

Our thoughts are also with the wounded soldiers and their families at this time of very great anxiety and apprehension for them.

I want those families to know that their loved ones are receiving the best possible medical care.

I ask all Australians to today take time to think of these soldiers, their families and all members of our Defence Force who are serving overseas.

Three brave young men died today serving our nation.

Sixteen Australian soldiers have now been killed in Afghanistan fighting alongside our coalition partners to improve conditions in that country.

While our mission in Afghanistan is difficult, it is vital for international stability and for the security of Australia. Our men and women in uniform continue to do outstanding work in this demanding and dangerous environment. They deserve our very highest praise. They deserve our gratitude.

I ask you to respect the privacy of the families involved who need time to come to terms with their loss. Operations also remain ongoing. We will share more information when we can.

I assure you that the commitment, dedication and sacrifice of these soldiers will not be forgotten.

Media contact:

Colin Campbell (John Faulkner) - 02 6277 7800 or 0407 787 181

Defence Media Liaison - 02 6127 1999 or 0408 498 664