Sydney, Dec 31 (IANS) Australian Defence Force (ADF) operations in Afghanistan will enter a new phase in the New Year to train, advise and assist local soldiers, defence authorities said Wednesday.
There are 400 Australian troops still in Afghanistan, who will undertake the work along with 9,800 American troops and other foreign soldiers.
The change marks the end of Operation Slipper, which has been Australia’s commitment to the NATO-led international mission in Afghanistan for the past 13 years.
The transition also recognises that the Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF) have now taken the lead for all combat operations.
Commander of Australia’s joint task force in Afghanistan, Major General David Mulhall, praised the efforts of the more than 26,500 Australian soldiers who have served in Afghanistan since 2002.
“As we move into this new operation, I also want to pay tribute to the 41 ADF personnel who lost their lives and those Australians who were wounded or became ill during this mission,” Xinhua quoted him as saying in a statement.
“Our own combat role finished at the end of 2013, and since then we have been focused on train, advise, assist roles with the ANSF, and we remain strongly committed to this task as we move into Operation Highroad,” Mulhall said.
Mulhall said there were still risks for Australian troops in Afghanistan.
“Our men and women continue to be exposed to danger and as such the Australian Defence Force is committed to ensuring all activities that our personnel undertake are thoroughly risk managed,” he said.