Aussies withdraw as Afghan army takes control of security

AUSTRALIAN troops have been withdrawn from forward operating bases and patrol bases in Uruzgan province, with the Afghan National Army taking control of security.

Minister for Defence Stephen Smith made the announcement on Thursday, saying it was a sign the plan to hand over security to Afghanistan forces across the country by the end of 2014 was on track.

Mr Smith said all four Infantry Kandaks of the ANA 4th Brigade were now operating independently without advisers in Uruzgan province.

In July, transition to Afghan-led security in Uruzgan began. In early October, the 3rd Infantry Kandak of the 4th Brigade commenced operations independently without advisers.

The 1st and 6th Infantry Kandaks commenced independent operations early this month and the final 4th Infantry Kandak commenced independent operations last week.

Australian troops have now consolidated their presence at the multi-national base in Tarin Kot, the capital of Uruzgan.

"Independent operations for the 4th Brigade Infantry Kandaks do not mean the end of a role for the ADF in Uruzgan," Mr Smith said.

"The ADF will also continue to advise the two combat support and combat service support (logistics) Kandaks of the 4th Brigade.

"The ADF task group will remain combat ready to assist Afghan forces should the need arise and the Special Operations Task Group will continue to conduct partnered combat operations to disrupt the insurgency."



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