The Minister for Defence Stephen Smith MP, accompanied by the Chief of the Defence Force General David Hurley AC, DSC, today announced that Australia will assume the leadership of Combined Team – Uruzgan (CT-U) in late 2012.
CT-U was established in August 2010 under United States command following the withdrawal of the Dutch, with the role of commanding International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) operations in Uruzgan Province.
The United States has had the leadership of CT-U since that time.
Australia sees leadership of the CT-U as part of the transition process through which security responsibility will be transferred from ISAF to the Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF).
As President Karzai announced on 13 May, Uruzgan is due to commence transition to Afghan-led security responsibility in the middle of this year.
Australia sees this as the appropriate time to take the leadership role in Uruzgan Province, to help ensure that transition in Uruzgan over the subsequent 12 to 18 month period is effected in a seamless way.
The United States has committed to continuing to provide enabling support in the Province, which it has done since August 2010.
Assuming leadership of CT-U will not require an increase in the overall average size of Australia’s presence in Uruzgan.
Australia looks forward to continuing to work with our CT-U partners – the United States, Singapore and Slovakia – to progress transition in Uruzgan to the Afghan authorities.