01 March 2014
A national day of commemoration will be held on March 21 2015 to recognise and commemorate the contribution and sacrifice of Australian troops who served in Afghanistan and the Middle East.
It is expected that the 400 Australian military personnel still serving in Afghanistan – in training and support roles – will largely be home by then.
Commemorative activities to mark the end of Operation Slipper will include parades of current and former Australian Defence Force and support personnel.
Australia’s mission in Afghanistan has come at a heavy human cost - 40 Australian soldiers lost their lives and more than 260 personnel were wounded.
As a nation it is important that we stop to acknowledge and honour those that have served and sacrificed for their fellow Australians and for the Afghan people.
Those who serve must know that their country will not ask them to bear the emotional wounds of war alone.
Since October 2001, more than 30,000 Defence Force personnel have deployed to the Middle East, together with officers of the Australian Federal Police and other Commonwealth public servants, in support of the whole-of-government effort in Afghanistan and the broader Middle East.
Today I gave thanks to more than 250 Darwin based soldiers at a welcome home parade marking the end of their deployment to Uruzgan Province in Afghanistan during 2013.
Along with their families and friends, they have displayed great courage and personal sacrifice to keep our country safe and to build a better future for the people of Afghanistan and the broader Middle East.
I have seen first-hand the dedication and professionalism of our troops serving in Uruzgan and, on behalf of a grateful nation, I sincerely thank them for their service.
I look forward to national commemoration activities next year.
1 March 2014