Defence Minister Christopher Pyne has travelled to the Middle East, where he spent time with Australian troops alongside Chief of the Defence Force General Angus Campbell AO, DSC and met with key leaders in Afghanistan and the United Arab Emirates.
During the visit to Kabul, where Minister Pyne stayed overnight, he thanked ADF personnel deployed on Operation HIGHROAD, Australia’s contribution to NATO’s Resolute Support mission in Afghanistan.
"It was important and valuable to have the opportunity to meet our service men and women on operations and hear first-hand about their experiences, challenges and achievements," he said.
Minister Pyne met with troops over dinner at Camp Grant and a barbecue lunch at Camp Qargha, where ADF mentors have been integral to the success of the Afghan National Army Officer Academy. Graduates at the academy now exceed 3,300, including more than 150 female officers.
Minister Pyne also visited the ADF Task Group at Hamid Karzai International Airport, Headquarters Resolute Support, and the Marshal Fahim National Defense University where approximately 300 ADF and civilian personnel support the development of the Afghan National Defense and Security Forces through the current train, advise and assist mission.
"The contribution of Australia and our NATO partners has helped see a dramatic increase in school enrolments from around 800,000 in 2001 to 8 million today. Under Taliban rule, no girls were allowed to go to school and now 40 per cent of students are girls," he said.
In the UAE, Minister Pyne met the Minister of State for Defence Mohammed bin Ahmed Al Bowardi.
"This was a great opportunity to reaffirm the friendship between Australia and the United Arab Emirates," Minister Pyne said.
"Our relationship is based on common interests and shared security challenges, including our commitment to international efforts to counter Daesh, supporting the rules‑based global order, and promoting regional security and stability."
Minister Pyne also met with the chairman of the Emirates Defence Industries Company during his visit, saying, "Deeper engagement between our defence industries, including through industry partnerships and co-operation, will strengthen the broader bilateral relationship and contribute to a stronger, more sustainable and globally competitive Australian defence industry in support of the Australian Defence Force’s capability needs."