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 Three Aussies killed in Afghanistan

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PostSubject: Three Aussies killed in Afghanistan   Three Aussies killed in Afghanistan EmptyJune 21st 2010, 11:17 am

Three Australian soldiers have been killed in a helicopter crash in Afghanistan, Defence Force Chief Air Chief Marshal Angus Houston says.

"Three of our people have been killed," he said.

The deaths come in the same month as those of sappers Darren Smith and Jacob Moerland and bring the tally of Australian deaths in Afghanistan to 16.

Another ISAF soldier - from another country - was also killed, Defence Minister John Faulkner said.

"This was not the result of enemy action," Air Chief Marshal Houston said.

A total of 10 Australians were among the 15 on board the coalition chopper.

Seven of the Australians were injured, with two seriously wounded, he said.

One was in surgery and another in intensive care, he said.

Air Chief Marshal Houston said other coalition helicopters carrying Australian troops were nearby when the helicopter went down.

"These helicopters were able to land immediately, secure the area and evacuate the wounded," he said.

Of the seven troops being treated for their wounds, two were "very seriously" wounded, with one undergoing surgery and one in intensive care at an ISAF medical facility.

Those two, along with a third soldier who is less seriously wounded, will be moved to a US military hospital in Bagram later today when their conditions have stabilised.

The dead soldiers were members of the 2nd commando regiment and had done three tours of Afghanistan.

Air Chief Marshal Houston said the soldiers were highly experienced.

"Time after time, they have taken the fight to the enemy with courage and determination," he said.

"I have nothing but admiration and respect for these very brave and committed Australians."

Air Chief Marshal Houston sent a message of support to members of the Special Operations Task Group.

"I am immensely proud of your efforts and I greatly respect what you've been able to achieve," he said.

"I ask you now to be there for each other, draw strength from all that you have accomplished and use the support that we are offering as you deal with the loss of your close mates."

Minister Faulkner said the news delivered great sadness.

"Our nation today lost three courageous soldiers," Senator Faulkner said. "This is a tragic day for Australia."

Air Chief Marshal Houston expressed condolences to their families.

"On behalf of all the men and women of the ADF, I extend my sympathies to the families of these three fine commandos we lost this morning," he said.

"We in the ADF are doing everything we can to support them at this time. But obviously they are very shocked and very distressed."

Air Chief Marshal Houston said the crash occurred at 3.39am Kandahar time and was in the northern area of Kandahar.

"It is a very rugged part of Afghanistan," he said.

"It's demanding terrain for the helicopter, particularly if the weather wasn't 100 per cent."

Senator Faulkner urged all Australians to take stock of the loss.

"I ask all Australians to today take time to think of these soldiers, their families and all the members of our defence forces who are serving their nation overseas," he said.

Air Chief Marshal Houston said Australia would not be deterred.

"We have suffered over the past week, but we remain firmly committed to serving our nation to the best of our ability," he said.

Air Chief Marshal Houston said while he didn't want to speculate on the cause of the accident, there was some problem with the helicopter. He would also not detail the type of helicopter involved.

"High altitude, rugged terrain, high temperatures and, I guess, heavily laden helicopters," he said.

"I'm not sure what happened, that will be subject to investigation. Suffice to say three o'clock in the morning, night-time and what the weather was like, all of that will be the subject of investigation.

"I wouldn't want to speculate on what the cause was at this early stage.

"These three people who were killed earlier today were killed as a consequence of some problem with the helicopter."

Asked if the deaths brought into question the government's commitment to the war, Senator Faulkner was unflinching.

He said it was "important to stabilise Afghanistan".

"We remain very committed to our operational objectives in Afghanistan," Senator Faulkner said.

"I think these objectives, these specific goals, these reasons for being in Afghanistan remain of very great importance."

The government's main goal in the central Asian nation is to train Afghanis to take control of their nation.

The latest deaths come as a poll by Essential Research, released on Monday, showed nearly two-thirds of respondents wanted Australia to pull out of Afghanistan.

Senator Faulkner said 2010 was a pivotal year in the campaign in Afghanistan, where Australia has been since 2001 following the September 11 terrorist attacks in the US.

"I think it's important to say to the Australian people that we are making progress in Afghanistan," he said.

Senator Faulkner said the federal government had been encouraged by reports that coalition troops had been able to blunt the momentum of the insurgency in southern Afghanistan.

"Of course it's important always for a government to be frank about the challenges ahead," he said.

"But ... those reasons for us being in Afghanistan, particularly ensuring that Afghanistan is no longer a training ground or safe haven for terrorists, is very important to Australia, is very important to the international community and will make a very big difference to the safety and security of Australians and many others in our region."

Air Chief Marshal Houston pointed to the surge of coalition forces, saying that with more American and more Afghan soldiers deployed, risks were higher.

"So I think it's inevitable with such a large increase in force, and all the operations that are ongoing, that there will be more violent incidents."

Air Chief Marshal Houston said coalition forces were making "steady progress" and had blunted the insurgency.

"I feel that we've got to be patient here, over time I think we will prevail, we have the right leadership, we have the right strategy."
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Fabulous Member
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Posts : 819
Join date : 2009-10-06
Location : aussie land

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PostSubject: Re: Three Aussies killed in Afghanistan   Three Aussies killed in Afghanistan EmptyJune 21st 2010, 11:49 am

sad, but a fact of troops being deployed in volatile areas. Feel for their families.
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