Another Australian Special Forces soldier has been killed in Afghanistan.
What makes this (as yet unnamed) man so incredible (as though being a Special Forces soldier wasn’t enough!) is that he was in the Army for twenty-two years, and had spent seventeen of them in the elite SAS. I can’t even imagine what kind of person it would take to not only make it into the SAS, but to maintain such a high standard for nearly two decades.
AN AUSTRALIAN soldier has been killed in Afghanistan after being shot in the chest by insurgents.
Chief of the Defence Force, General David Hurley, said the 40-year-old special forces soldier – who he described as “a soldier’s soldier” – was killed during an operation in the Chora Valley region of Oruzgan province yesterday morning, local Afghan time.
The experienced soldier, who was on his seventh tour of duty to Afghanistan, was shot during an engagement with insurgents while on a mission with Afghan National Security Forces to target an insurgent commander.
General Hurley said the patrol’s advanced first aid officer provided immediate assistance and continued attempts to resuscitate him until he was evacuated to a medical facility in Tarin Kowt.
“Despite best attempts by all, attempts to resuscitate him were unsuccessful,” he said.
The soldier’s family were told overnight of his death, and have asked that at this stage, his personal details not be released.
General Hurley said the soldier enlisted in the Army in 1990, and then joined the Perth-based Special Air Service Regiment – the SAS – in 1995.
“His colleagues describe him as a highly professional operator who earned great respect within the special operations community over many years of service,” he said.
“On behalf of the Army and the Defence community I extend my deepest sympathy to the soldier’s family, his comrades and his mates.
“I know that these words can not ease the overwhelming grief they feel today but I hope they can find comfort in the knowledge that this soldier served his country with pride and with distinction.”
It is Australia’s 33rd fatality in Afghanistan since 2001.
General Hurley said while “every combat death” was deeply felt by all members across Defence, “our men and women remain committed to our mission in Afghanistan”.
“This man was a soldier’s soldier and I know that the members of the special operations task group will ensure his service and sacrifice will not be forgotten,” he said.
Prime Minister Julia Gillard, who was with General David Hurley at Larrakeyah Barracks in Darwin to make the sad announcement, said the loss of another Australian soldier was “a dreadful blow for our nation”.
“And I know Australians today will stop, will pause, will reflect and will mark with respect the loss of this brave soldier and will honour his service and his sacrifice,” she said.
The PM said she understood “many” Australians would again question Australia’s mission in Afghanistan.
“To Australians, I want to say this: this is a tragic and incredibly difficult day,” she said.
“We are all absorbing tragic news. But this tragic incident is part of what we are doing in Afghanistan because that mission is so important to our Australian nation.
“We went there to make sure that Afghanistan would not continue to be a safe haven for terrorists. That continues to be our mission which has a defined purpose and a defined timeline so we will continue our mission in Afghanistan even as we grieve this loss.”