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Afghanistan: French Aircraft; Australian Minister Visits

  • September 4th, 2007
  • Posted by EUEditor

mirage-2000.jpgThe NATO military and civil reconstruction operation in Afghanistan has received fresh gestures of support both from France and Australia.

FRENCH AIRCRAFT AND TROOPS

The French government has announced it will move its six combat aircraft committed to the fighting in Afghanistan from a base in Tadjikistan to the air base at Kandahar.

The Mirage 2000 D and Mirage F-1 planes, with 150 support crew, will be enabled to make longer sorties from the advanced base, into the South of the country where most operations against Taliban insurgents have been taking place.

The new posting, together with an extra 150 troops in training roles, adds to 1000 French soldiers in the country.

LeMonde reports (30.8.07) the increases should allay fears in America that the new French President, Nicolas Sarkozy, might consider reductions – after comments during his election campaign, early this year, that the forces could not “stay on forever”.

Kandahar is the principal allied military base in Afghanistan with 11000 troops from ISAF – the International Security Assistance Force.

The base is currently used by military aircraft from Australia, Britain, Canada, the Netherlands and the United States. The RAAF is providing the air traffic control.

AUSTRALIA AND THE USA

The Australian Defence Minister, Brendan Nelson, has completed a tour (26-29.8.07) of Australian Middle East deployments including Iraq, and Afghanistan.

He also visited Washington.

He affirmed the Australian government intended to keep its forces in both Afghanistan and Iraq — on the eve of the arrival in Sydney of President George Bush (4.9.07), for the summit of APEC leaders (Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation).

Participation in the NATO-led Afghanistan operation has bi-partisan support in Australia but the Opposition Labor Party proposes a phased exit from Iraq – a topic set for discussion between the Party leader, Kevin Rudd, and Mr Bush during the President’s current stay.

DEFENCE MINISTER’S TOUR

Australian Defence Department statement:

The Minister for Defence, Dr Brendan Nelson, led an Australian Defence Force delegation visit to Australian personnel serving in Afghanistan, Iraq and the Middle East Area of Operations (MEAO), while also conducting meetings with government Ministers and Defence officials.

Minister Nelson held talks with Afghanistan’s President Hamid Karzai and Defence Minister General Abdul Raheem Wardak on the general security situation, as well as the coordination of aid and reconstruction.

The visit to Australian military personnel based in Oruzgan Province in southern Afghanistan was also conducted during this leg.

A visit to Royal Australian Air Force’s AP3-C Orion detachment included a naming ceremony of an aircraft and a meeting with personnel who continue to work tirelessly in support of maritime surveillance and patrols in the Northern Persian Gulf.

In Iraq, meetings were held with the Prime Minister of Iraq, Mr Nuri al-Maliki, and the Defence Minister, Mr Abdul Qader Mohammed Jassim. As part of maintaining Australia’s strong relationships with Coalition partners, the Minister also met with the US Ambassador to Iraq Mr Ryan Crocker and the Commanding General Multi-National Force – Iraq, General David Petraeus, to discuss the Coalition’s strategy in Iraq.

Minister Nelson also visited the Australian Army Training Team in Taji, made up of 100 trainers from the Army and Royal Australian Air Force, and the Security Detachment in Baghdad.

Reference:

Department of Defence, Australia,”Defence Minister and CDF Visit Middle East”, 31.8.07.
http://www.defence.gov.au/media/download/2007/Aug/20070831/index.htm (4.9.07)
La France redeploi ses avions de combat dans le Sud Afghan” (France redeploys its combat aircraft to the South of Afghanistan), Le Monde, Paris, 30.8.07. www.lemonde.fr (4.9.07)

Picture: Mirage 2000, Google – probertencyclopaedia

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