Saturday, 21 August 2010

Released by Defence Media Centre

Two Australian soldiers serving with the 1st Mentoring Task Force in Afghanistan have been killed in action when they were struck by an improvised explosive device (IED).

Private Tomas Dale, 21 and Private Grant Kirby, 35, were killed in action when they were struck by an IED. Both of their families have been notified and they have agreed to the release of names.

Two other Australian soldiers were wounded in action in the explosion. Their wounds are not life threatening and the soldiers have contacted their families.

All of the soldiers involved in the incident are from the Brisbane based 6th Battalion of the Royal Australian Regiment.

The Acting Chief of the Defence Force, Lieutenant General David Hurley said the incident occurred during a joint counter IED operation with soldiers from the Afghan National Army.

Lieutenant General Hurley said the soldiers were moving to an observation position in the Baluchi Valley to cover the operation when, at approximately 10.30 yesterday morning (Afghanistan time, Friday, 20 August), they struck an IED.

The two soldiers had dismounted from their Bushmaster Protected Mobility Vehicle when they were struck by the explosive device. It is not known what triggered the device.

The wounded soldiers received immediate first aid at the scene and were aero-medically evacuated to the ISAF medical hospital at Tarin Kot.

The two deceased soldiers were also transferred to the military hospital.

Lieutenant General Hurley said this was the second incident in a week involving the deaths of Australian soldiers.

"The death of Privates Dale and Kirby so soon after the recent death of Trooper Jason Brown is a tragic reminder of the dangerous and courageous work Australian Defence personnel undertake every day.

"Twenty Australian soldiers have died in Afghanistan, yet despite their loss, their comrades remain very committed to our mission and to honouring the sacrifice of their fallen mates."

The Acting Chief of the Defence Force also extended the deepest sympathies of Air Chief Marshal Angus Houston and the Defence community to the families of the two soldiers.

"Each and every incident like this is felt very deeply throughout the Defence family and particularly the Army. Privates Dale and Kirby, and their comrades who have also died in Afghanistan, have served their nation proudly," Lieutenant General Hurley said.

The soldiers' families have asked for privacy at this time.

20 Australian soldiers have been killed in action since operations in Afghanistan began with 147 soldiers wounded as a result of combat.

Media contact:

Defence Media Liaison - 02 6127 1999 or 0408 498 664