Prime Minister Scott Morrison has announced that the last Australian Defence Force troops in Afghanistan will be withdrawn by September.
The departure of the remaining 80 troops will be in line with the withdrawal of US troops, which was announced by President Joe Biden yesterday.
“Today the Government is announcing that Australia will conclude the drawdown of our contribution to the NATO-led Resolute Support mission in Afghanistan,” the Prime Minister said.
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“Over the past two years, we’ve been reducing our military presence in Afghanistan from a high every over 1,500 personnel to around 80 personnel currently,” he said.
“In line with the United States and other allies and partners, the last remaining Australian troops will depart Afghanistan in September 2021.”
Mr Morrison said the decision represents a “significant milestone in Australia’s military history”.
“Over the last 20 years, Australia has been a steadfast contributor to the fight against terrorism in Afghanistan. Australia has fought alongside coalition and Afghan partners to degrade the capabilities of terrorist organisations, including al-Qaeda,” he said.
“More than 39,000 Australian defence force personnel have deployed on Operation Slipper and Hoy Road helping to protect the safety and security of the Australian people at home and overseas.”
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“Since 2001, 41 Australian personnel have lost their lives while serving in Afghanistan. And many more were wounded, some physically, others mentally, and we’ll be dealing with the scars, both mental and physical, of their service, for many, many years,” Mr Morrion said.
Fighting back tears, the Prime Minister then read through a list of the 41 Australian troops who lost their lives while serving in Afghanistan
“The sacrifice immense, the bravery and courage things we can speak of, but not know of personally,” Mr Morrison said.
“These brave Australians are amongst our greatest ever, who have served in the name of freedom.”
When asked whether going into Afghanistan was worth it, the Prime Minister said “Freedom is always worth it”.
“Australians have always believed that. That is why Australians who have serviced in our defence forces have always pulled on that uniform.”