Wednesday, 25 August 2010

Released by Defence Media Centre

An Australian soldier, operating as a mentor to the Afghan National Army during a partnered patrol in the Deh Rawud region, has been killed in action during an intense fire-fight with Taliban insurgents.

The soldier was conducting a dismounted patrol yesterday morning (24 August 2010 – Afghanistan time) in the “green zone” when they were fired on by a number of insurgents. The Australian soldier was killed in the engagement.

The soldier’s colleagues moved him out of danger and provided first aid. However, his patrol mates were unable to sustain his life.

The patrol remained in contact with the Taliban insurgents for almost three hours before withdrawing from the area. An ISAF AH-64 Apache helicopter used its 30mm cannon while additional support was called from a precision-guided weapon to provide support during the engagement.

The Chief of the Defence Force, Air Chief Marshal Angus Houston, said the deepest sympathies and prayers of the Defence community were with the soldier’s family.

“Their loved one was lost in the service of our nation, and we will bring him home and lay him to rest with dignity and respect. And we will help this family as they grieve,” Air Chief Marshal Houston said.

“This past month has been a trying time for the soldiers of the Mentoring Task Force. As they farewelled their colleagues - Privates Grant Kirby and Tomas Dale from Tarin Kot yesterday, news of the death of this soldier was coming through.

“All operational deaths are tragic events and impact on our soldiers. But they have a mission and will press on, in honour of their fallen mates and in the knowledge that their contribution was for a worthy cause.

“This soldier was providing valuable mentoring and training to soldiers of the Afghan National Army’s 4th Brigade when the incident occurred. He was making a real contribution to the capability of the Afghan soldiers as well as providing security and protection for the Afghan people.”

The soldier’s family have been advised and they have specifically requested that his name is not released at this point.

As operations in this region are ongoing, Defence is not able to disclose further information at this time as it could endanger the safety of Australian and Afghan soldiers.

21 Australian soldiers have been killed in action since operations in Afghanistan began. 149 soldiers have been wounded in combat during this period.

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