WAR ON TERROR
This Page Will Be Updated as News of Australian Activities Comes To Hand
It will only contain facts, not rumours, I will leave news of any events within Australia off these pages too. There are plenty of venues for them elsewhere.
HMAS SYDNEY SAILS FOR THE GULF
12 October 2001
The Sydney, under the command of Commander Daryl Bates, will sail to the Gulf via Darwin to replace the Anzac frigate HMAS Anzac which has been deployed on US-led blockade duty against Iraq since July. Australian ships have been there since the 1991 Gulf War.
Australia Sends 1,550 Troops
Wednesday, October 17, 2001
Australia will send troops overseas to join the war against terrorism, Prime Minister John Howard has announced
The number of Australian personnel to be deployed would be 1,550, with most leaving by mid-November, Mr Howard said. He said the cost of the deployment would be significant but he had not yet calculated it.
Prime Minister Howard said the exact departure date had not been confirmed but said it would be soon.
Mr Howard said he briefed Opposition Leader Kim Beazley on the deployment last night. He said Mr Beazley supported the action.
He said the operation would not be restricted to search and rescue. "There is nothing token about this contribution," he said, adding it was "very significant".
The Forces Include:
• Two P3 marine aircraft
• Special forces troops
• Two B707 tanker aircraft
• Guided missile frigate, HMAS Sydney
• A naval task force on board an amphibious command ship with a frigate as escort
• Four F/A-18 aircraft with one frigate as escort
• TOTAL: 1,550 military personnel
A BRISBANE-born brigadier, who gave up his position on a Timor operating table so a woman could give birth, will command the Australian force being sent to Afghanistan.
Brigadier Ken Gillespie, 49, is in the US for briefings before being sent to the Afghanistan region and then on to the command ship HMAS Kanimbla.
He will be in charge of the contingent that will include about 1550 personnel, six aircraft and four warships.
4RAR Commandos Rush From East Timor To War Training
Sunday Oct 21 2001
A Sydney-based Army battalion coming home after six months in East Timor will go straight into training to prepare for Afghanistan.
After its long tour of duty, the 4th Commando Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment, based at Holsworthy, may get only a few days off before going straight into intensive anti-terrorist training.
One thousand soldiers were in the 4RAR battalion group in East Timor, but the battle-ready commandos number about 300.
They have started coming back on a rented Ansett plane, and most should be back by the end of this week.
The soldiers' home leave will be very short, possibly just a few days, as the special commando battalion is readied for a far more dangerous mission than its role in East Timor.
It is not clear if the entire battalion is being considered for deployment or just the 300 commandos and their support units.
22 Oct 01
AROUND 200 family and friends have gathered in Sydney to wave off HMAS Kanimbla on the first stage of journey that will take it into the war on terrorism, as on the other side of the country, John Howard and Kim Beazley farewell SAS troops.
The formal political goodbye has been planned for several days and takes place at least two days before the troops will deploy in secret.
"We won't declare the departure of special forces," a source said. "They will deploy later."
All other Australian units joining the US-led war against terrorism will receive public farewells.
Families Farewell HMAS Stirling
Thu, 8 Nov 2001 16:34 AEDT
Families have gathered at HMAS Stirling in Western Australia to farewell their loved ones, as more than 600 personnel prepare to leave for the Persian Gulf.
The Kanimbla and HMAS Adelaide are due to depart shortly, and will be farewelled by the Governor-General of Australia, Peter Hollingsworth.
Both ships have been undergoing intensive training off the WA coast, as part of Australia's contribution to the international coalition against terrorism.
HMAS Adelaide is a guided missile frigate while the Kanimbla is a troop ship.
F/A-18 Fighter Jets to Join Campaign Against Terrorism
Sat, Nov 10 2001
A contingent of F/A-18 fighter jets has left the RAAF base Williamtown, near Newcastle, to join the international coalition against terrorism. F/A-18 flight and ground crew and ground support staff were given an official farewell yesterday morning from Williamtown RAAF base.
Parliamentary secretary to the Minister of Defence, Dr Brendan Nelson, reassured families of the departing personnel that the cause they were being deployed for, the fight against terrorism, was a just and worthy one. Approximately 70 personnel will be departing the base over the coming weeks and were given a fond farewell by family and friends at the official function.
ANZAC Heading Home From The Gulf
Friday November 16, 2110
HMAS ANZAC is heading home after serving in the Persian Gulf since July this year helping to enforce United Nations sanctions against Iraq.
The ship's company has been conducting boarding operations on merchant vessels sailing in and out of Iraq, checking for smuggled oil and contraband.
Senior United States defence officials have given ANZAC the highest praise for her commitment and professionalism during her time in the Gulf.
"ANZAC is uniquely versatile and well-versed in all facets of boardings," General Tommy Franks, Commander in Chief, United States Central Command said in a statement released by the Defence Department.
"ANZAC's successful execution of every assigned mission during this deployment was due in a large part to unparalleled allegiance, steadfast devotion to assigned duties and responsibilities, and the superb combat readiness of the Royal Australian Navy."
The ship will return to her home port at Fleet Base West, HMAS Stirling in Western Australia later this month.
The guided missile frigate HMAS Sydney has replaced ANZAC in the Gulf and started operations enforcing sanctions against Iraq.
Australia Sets a Six-Month Deadline For Our Peacekeepers
17th Nov 2001
The Australian Government has given an in-principle agreement to send an unspecified number of troops into Afghanistan as part of a multinational "stabilisation force", on the understanding that the Australian soldiers come out within six months.
The Prime Minister, John Howard, was expected to announce within days whether Australia would commit troops to the force and, if so, what type of soldiers and how many. The US officials emphasised that they expected Australia's commitment to be "closer to dozens than thousands" and nothing like the large contingent it had sent to East Timor.
SAS Troops Join Campaign To Capture bin Laden
Wed, Nov 21 2001 3:33 PM AEDT
Australia's troop deployment to Afghanistan has begun, with SAS soldiers on their way to the Persian Gulf.
Thirty SAS soldiers left Perth this morning as part of the commitment to the military campaign against terrorism. They will be joined by another 120 troops within a week. "They will be involved in the operations of special forces, particularly relating to the pursuit of the Al Qaeda hardcore, the capture of which is the ultimate objective of the operation," The Prime Minister, John Howard, said. The Prime Minister says despite the success of military operations against the Taliban, it is too early to say how long Australian forces will be deployed. "Everybody will of course welcome the possibility that there may be a shorter involvement but it's too early to make that comment," he said.
HMAS Anzac Returns Home From Gulf
15:26 AEDST Sat 24 Nov 2001
HMAS Anzac has returned to its home port in Western Australia after five months in the Persian Gulf enforcing United Nations sanctions against Iraq.
During its tour, the frigate's crew boarded 55 merchant vessels sailing in and out of Iraq to check for smuggled oil and contraband, a Defence Department spokesman said.
Under the command of Captain Nigel Oates, the ship was originally scheduled to arrive at WA's HMAS Stirling base in October but its deployment was extended after the terrorist attacks on the United States on September 11. The spokesman said the ship would undergo a period of maintenance and the crew would have a well-deserved break with family and friends over the Christmas period. The guided missile frigate HMAS Sydney has replaced the Anzac in the Gulf. The Sydney was farewelled in Darwin late last month.
Remaining SAS Head Off For War On Terror
Tuesday November 27
Australia's remaining special forces soldiers left Perth this morning to join the war on terrorism.
Defence Minister Robert Hill said the 120 soldiers of the Special Air Service Regiment (SASR) made up the balance of the 150-strong group Australia had committed to assist United States forces in Afghanistan
The government has not revealed what role the Australian group will play in the conflict. It has imposed no restrictions on their deployment. It is expected they will serve with US special forces groups which have been active in the south of Afghanistan for several weeks. Little if anything is likely to be revealed for security reasons.
Diggers On The Front Line
03 Dec 01
AUSTRALIAN troops are working with US troops at their base in Afghanistan, as the war on terror enters a new and crucial stage.
The presence of Australians was confirmed for the first time last night by US military authorities, although the Australian Government has repeatedly refused to confirm or deny the location of its troops.
Taskforce 58 spokesman Captain Stewart Upton said liaison officers from several countries were working with the US Marines at their base in Afghanistan. "There are British, there are Germans, there are Australians and there are more to come," he said.
A two-kilometre column of US military vehicles, including light armour, left the base yesterday in a plume of dust on a secret mission. US officials would not say where the vehicles were going or state their purpose. "But I don't think anything here is an exercise," said Captain Upton, whose Taskforce 58 combines the 15th and 26th Marine Expeditionary Units with air and naval support for Operation Swift Freedom. He said he could provide no other information.
The US toehold in southern Afghanistan, seized a week ago, is within striking distance of Kandahar, the Taliban's last stronghold, and anti-Taliban tribal fighters are battling towards the city. A small cardboard sign on a ridge near the outpost gives a clue to the Australian presence. Below a banner declaring it "Camp Justice (For America)" and signs pointing to Washington and Kandahar is the sign pointing to Sydney and Perth, the base of the SAS contingent. It is a makeshift sign erected in lieu of a flag defining US control of the territory.
Australia Steps Up It's Afghan Presence
Tue, 4 Dec 2001
American military officials say another contingent of Australian troops has joined their forces in southern Afghanistan. A spokesman for the US Marines declined to say how many more had arrived at a desert airfield near Kandahar, but he said there were now more than just liaison officers. Defence Minister Robert Hill confirmed the first Australian arrivals in Afghanistan yesterday. The extra Australian troops flew into a desert airstrip in southern Afghanistan which US Marines seized last week.
Aussies Join Marines to Secure Airport
15 Dec 01
AUSTRALIAN and US forces have poured into Kandahar airport in a pre-dawn swoop to make it safe for military and civilian use. The massive land and air deployment by US Marines and Australian servicemen was launched a week after Osama bin Laden's al-Qaeda forces were driven from the battered airport in southern Afghanistan by Afghan groups allied with the United States. Details of the Aussie involvement were limited, but the Marines said they fired no shots during the night-time mission to assume control of the international airport.
Defence Chief Sends Christmas Message To Troops
Tuesday December 18, 2001
Australia's Defence Force Chief Admiral Chris Barrie has praised his troops' professionalism and dedication throughout a demanding and dangerous year.
In his annual Christmas message, Admiral Barrie acknowledged resources had been stretched over the past year, when troops had been involved in dangerous situations.
"Yet through it all shines the professionalism and dedication of the highly trained personnel we have in our armed forces," he said. "Their efforts have been outstanding." But these efforts are made possible only through the continued support of families and loved ones who give us the confidence to succeed."Admiral Barrie said many troops would be deployed overseas, or be preparing to leave, over the Christmas period and Australians' thoughts and prayers would be with them.
Defence Minister to Discuss Australia's Contribution to Afghan War
Monday, January 7, 2002
Defence Minister Robert Hill is on his way to Washington for talks with his US counterpart about the war in Afghanistan. He will then go to London to meet his British counterpart. Senator Hill says Australia is already making a significant contribution, and he will discuss whether it is to be varied or increased.
Australia To Offer Troops For Afghan Mission: Hill
Thursday, January 10, 2002
Australia will offer to send more ground troops to Afghanistan over the next year to replace members of the international stabilisation force who have served their time, the Minister for Defence, Robert Hill, said. Senator Hill, speaking in New York after talks with United Nations officials, said the number of troops offered would depend on what type of soldiers the force required and whether Australia could provide troops with those skills. He made the comments after learning from senior UN officials that the six-month mission could be extended to 12 or 18 months if the security situation in the country remained uncertain.
Diggers May Be Sent On New Terror Trail
Fri 11th Jan 2002
Australian troops would remain in Afghanistan and more soldiers could be sent to other countries to help the United States in its fight against terrorist groups, Australian Defence Minister Robert Hill told a press conference at the Pentagon. Senator Hill, who stood alongside US Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld at the Pentagon briefing in Washington DC, said Australia was willing to support the US "until the job is done". "If the goal is to best ensure terrorism can't be exported as it was last year, then obviously we'll have to turn our attention to areas beyond Afghanistan," Senator Hill said.
RAAF Plane Lands At Kandahar
15th Jan 2002
AUSTRALIA has landed its first RAAF plane in Afghanistan, months after it announced it would send personnel to the Middle East to fight in the war against terrorism.
The Australian Defence Force (ADF) said today a C130 Hercules carrying several American personnel and equipment, landed in the former Taliban stronghold of Kandahar and picked up Australian equipment.
The Hercules transport plane was an additional commitment to the Australian presence in Afghanistan, not having been part of the announcement by Prime Minister John Howard in early October.
Soldier Loses Toes
(Update Of Earlier News) 4:00 PM 18th January 2002
An Australian SAS soldier has lost two toes from his right foot after stepping on a landmine in southern Afghanistan.
The man, whose name, age and address have not been released, was seriously injured in last night's incident but it was not life-threatening, Army chief Lieutenant General Peter Cosgrove said today. He was treated at the scene, had surgery in a military hospital in Kandahar and was then flown to an American military hospital in Germany. The soldier had been based in Western Australia, but his parents have asked that his personal details not be made public.
"He was on patrol in southern Afghanistan searching for Taliban and al-Qaeda members in their former bases," Gen Cosgrove said. "I can confirm that, while his injuries are serious, they're not life-threatening. "He received immediate treatment from Australian special forces personnel at the accident site." Gen Cosgrove said the soldier was evacuated from the scene by US Black Hawk helicopters and underwent surgery at a military medical facility at Kandahar. "His big toe was removed, blown off, in the accident, and his second toe was subsequently amputated," he said. "He has got multiple fractures of the foot and right ankle and has sustained some superficial lacerations." The soldier is Australia's first casualty in the war against terrorism. Gen Cosgrove said the incident occurred about 12.30pm local time (8.30pm AEDT) yesterday. The soldier was immediately treated by colleagues, and no one else in the group was injured. He was evacuated at 6am (AEDT) today by a United States Air Force C130 Hercules to an American military hospital in Germany for further treatment.
"He was conscious and spoke to his commanding officer before his departure," he said. "He is a very fit young soldier, as you would expect, and we're hopeful he will make the fullest possible recovery." Gen Cosgrove said he had spoken to the soldier's family this morning. They were shocked by the accident but relieved to know his condition was not life-threatening.
SAS Running Covert Missions
Jan 22nd 2002
AUSTRALIAN SAS troops in Afghanistan are mounting clandestine patrols of former enemy-held areas, it has been revealed. The Australian Defence Force (ADF) today released more information on the role of Aussie troops in the war on terror, including video footage of troops on patrol in the war-torn country's south, showing a bleak landscape and a village bristling with weapons. ADF spokesman Brigadier Gary Bornholt said patrols often operated openly but their main task was to gather intelligence covertly. The Australian contingent, numbering 150 and operating in conjunction with the US and other coalition members, encountered some people who welcomed the troops and others who clearly resented their presence. "Most of those areas have not previously been explored by US or coalition forces at all," he told the ADF's weekly media briefing on the war against terrorism. "The intelligence that our soldiers collect is gained largely through ... clandestine strategic reconnaissance tasking.
Brigadier Bornholt said the SAS soldier injured in a landmine explosion last week had been operated on again in Germany but was recovering well. "The surgeon is very pleased with the results and the soldier remains in a stable condition under medical care," he said. The soldier lost two toes on his right foot and injured his right ankle and legs when he trod on an anti-personnel landmine last Thursday.
Brigadier Bornholt said Australian navy ships intercepted four suspected sanctions-busting vessels in the Arabian Gulf last week. "On Friday, HMAS Kanimbla successfully boarded and searched two potential smuggler vessels in the Gulf," he said. "HMAS Sydney was also involved in a long-running chase supporting another coalition ship as both worked to halt suspected sanctions violators that steamed more than 1,000 miles and have been tracked over nine days trying to avoid detention by United Nations ships." He said one of the suspect ships made a last-minute break for freedom, prompting the Sydney to make chase at maximum power to intercept, which was achieved successfully.
Aust Navy Ships Leave to Join Coalition in Afghanistan
Thu, Jan 24 2002
Two Australian Navy ships and a detachment from the Air Defence Regiment have left Sydney to join the international coalition in Afghanistan. HMAS Manoora and HMAS Newcastle left Sydney this morning to replace the Kanimbla, the Sydney and the Adelaide. HMAS Canberra will leave from Perth at a later date. It is the first of a planned rotation of ships and personnel in the region.
Aussie Troops Get a Break
FEB 6TH 2002
AUSTRALIAN soldiers in southern Afghanistan have wound down their activity over the past week, giving the troops a break from high intensity operations. Australian Defence Force spokesman Brigadier Gary Bornholt said the SAS troops had slightly reduced their tempo but continued to maintain strategic reconnaissance operational tasks. "They continue to add value to the coalition operations in southern Afghanistan," he told reporters. "(They) are now focusing in this past week on reconstituting and servicing equipment, this allows some of them to have a break from high intensity operations." Brigadier Bornholt said the troops were involved in largely clandestine operations which were debilitating for the soldiers. But he added: "We're not obviously holding at a low tempo for a long period of time."
Meanwhile, the SAS soldier injured in a landmine explosion last month had returned to Australia on a commercial flight after a period of recovery in Germany. "He's now resting comfortably in hospital," Brigadier Bornholt said. The soldier lost two toes on his right foot and injured his right ankle and legs when he trod on an anti-personnel landmine. The ADF does not plan to release any further information about the soldier, at the request of the soldier and his family.
Guard of Honour For Australian Soldier Flown Home
Monday, February 18, 2002
The body of an Australian special forces soldier killed over the weekend in southern Afghanistan is being flown home. The soldier was a member of the Perth-based Special Air Service Regiment and died on Saturday night when his vehicle hit a landmine. He is the first Australian fatality in the US-led war on terrorism in Afghanistan.
At the US air base in Kandahar, Time magazine correspondent Michael Ware watched a contingent of SAS soldiers escort the body of their former colleague onto an American transport plane.
"A guard of honour of approximately 22 Australian soldiers stood by as the coffin was loaded onto the American C-130," he said. "As the C-130 was loaded, a group of Australians then stood on the tarmac for 15 minutes waiting for the plane to taxi and then finally take off. "When the plane took off the Australians then hugged and finally turned and walked away from the tarmac. "They returned to their compound here at the United States airbase where for the entire day their flag has flown at half mast."
SAS Trooper Flown Home
Wed 20th Feb 2002
The body of SAS Trooper Andrew Russell has been flown back to Australia in a US Air Force C130 Hercules aircraft after a ceremony in southern Afghanistan. As bagpipes played, colleagues mourned his weekend death. The 33-year-old trooper from Perth was killed on Saturday when the patrol vehicle in which he and four others were travelling hit a landmine. The following evening Australian soldiers lined up on either side of the rear ramp of the aircraft used to transport his body back to Australia.
Trooper Russell's body was accompanied to Perth by two Australian escorts, including an officer from his regiment. A full memorial service is scheduled to be held at the Kandahar base today.
Trooper Russell's wife, Kylie, said yesterday in a statement that he was a loving man with a wicked sense of humour. "Andrew lived his life to the full and passionately loved his job," she said. "He lived and experienced more in this short time that he had than most other people would in a lifetime."
Last Post For Casualty of War on Terrorism
Australia's first military casualty in the war against terrorism was given a moving farewell yesterday by his widow and the baby he never knew.
Special Air Service Regiment Sergeant Andrew Russell, 33, was lowered into his grave as the strains of the Last Post, played by a uniformed soldier, rang through the tranquil surrounds of Pinaroo Valley Memorial Park, in the northern Perth suburb of Padbury. His casket, draped with an Australian flag, was carried to the grave on top of a gun carriage towed by an Army vehicle decked with flowers.
The procession followed a private ceremony, attended by about 200 of Sergeant Russell's family and friends. After a short graveside ceremony, mourners wept as they watched his widow, Kylie, holding the couple's month-old baby, Leisa Abigail, place two red roses into her husband's grave.
5th Mar 2002
The Australian Defence Force has confirmed SAS troops in Afghanistan are now engaged in active combat as part of Operation Anaconda in the eastern part of the country.
Brigadier Paul Retter says there have been no Australian casualties, after the deaths of several US troops over the last day or so. He says he cannot reveal where the Australians are or what they are doing, but says they have an active role.
"Australian troops for Operation Anaconda are in a position where they may be required to actively engage with the enemy," Brigadier Retter said. "This operation is well within the types of roles and tasks we would expect our special forces to be involved in."
The Prime Minister says Australian troops are engaged in the most fierce combat of the conflict in Afghanistan.