Update 10.30am: Acting chief of the defence force Lieutenant General David Hurley, and the acting defence minister Greg Combet have also just confirmed the deaths, and said the soldiers’ families had requested their names not be released.

Update 10.10am: Queensland Premier Anna Bligh has confirmed two Australian soldiers were killed. More here.

Details are still emerging but Australians are believed among the casualties in the most deadly day this year for allied forces in Afghanistan.

An Australian patrol in Oruzgan province last year. Pic: Gary Ramage

A spokesman for the Australian Defence Force confirmed an “an incident” involving the Mentoring Task Force and that next of kin had been informed, though did not provide further details. The Courier-Mail in Brisbane, where the MTF is based, is reporting two Australian soldiers were killed in the incident. If confirmed it will bring the number of Australian soldiers killed in Afghanistan to 13 since 2002.

Last night the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force confirmed an improvised explosive device incident that killed two soldiers in southern Afghanistan, where Australian troops are based.

The last Australian fatality was Private Benjamin Ranaudo, who was killed by an IED last July.

Government officials won’t confirm the deaths but Defence Materiel and Science minister Greg Combet and Acting Chief of the Defence Force, Lieutenant General David Hurley, will make a statement this morning expected at 10.30am AEST.

They’ll be handling it because the Defence minister, John Faulkner, is away in Pakistan for talks. He met yesterday with Pakistan’s president, Asif Ali Zardari, and senior Pakistani brass to discuss closer military ties. Pakistan is a critical ally in the fight to secure Afghanistan.

Australia’s involvement in Afghanistan tends to drift in and out of the domestic political radar. These developments will renew focus on the deployment and its security, but it also carries the added complication of being intertwined with the border protection debate.

Earlier this year the government stopped processing the refugee status claims of Afghan refugees amid growing political concern about aslyum seekers arriving by boat. The government claimed at the time the suspension was because of improving conditions in Afghanistan.

Australian troop casualties in the country are a callous reminder that while progress has been made in Afghanistan its security and political system are far from stable.

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43 comments

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    • Sammy says:

      10:16am | 08/06/10

      And Rudd has sent more troops there despite more deaths than Iraq.

      He just doesn’t get it.  Obama’s lap dog.

    • DG says:

      10:45am | 08/06/10

      FAIL - where does your comment relating to Iraq fit into the loss of 2 soldiers in Afghanistan?

    • iansand says:

      10:51am | 08/06/10

      tasteless.

    • Zeta says:

      10:57am | 08/06/10

      Actually the United States have requested we dramatically bolster our presence in Southern Afghanistan in the wake of Dutch forces leaving. We said no.

    • Sgt. J W Pepper says:

      12:33pm | 08/06/10

      Rudd withdrew our troops from Iraq - where we did not lose a single boy in combat.  Then sent MORE to Afghanistan where it is more dangerous!

      Rudd is a goose.  Blood on his hands. Absolutely.  The buck stops with the PM.

    • James1 says:

      02:08pm | 08/06/10

      I find it a little disturbing that so many are happy to use our dead Defence Force personnel as political footballs to bash Rudd.  Tasteless indeed.

    • Phil says:

      06:17pm | 08/06/10

      I am well versed in the art of dislike for Rudd and his policies.

      I think we actually think we need to bolster our numbers before reducing them once we have trained the local forces. Otherwise we might as well just get out and leave and be prepared for the civil war that will occur down the track.

      As for Rudd having blood on his hands I dont think so.

      Our soldiers are well trained, but a bomb is a bomb and does not discrminate between civilians, army personel, nor terrorists who place them there.

      Iraq withdrawl was a good election ploy, as many voters did not like our involvement there. They did not have as much hatred for our involvement here.

      James 1. I agree wholeheartedly. Poor taste indeed. My prayers go out to the families who have lost loved ones in this and other conflicts.

    • Christian Real says:

      06:24pm | 08/06/10

      James1
      I agree, to use the deaths of any of our defence force personal to attack Rudd with is tasteless and Un-Australian, and these radical Liberal clones should hang their heads in shame.

    • Anjuli says:

      10:37am | 08/06/10

      My heart goes out to the families of these soldiers who gave their lives so that Afghans can once again live in peace and safety. Yet we are still allowing fit young Afghans to come here via leaky boats and stay ,is it me or is there some thing wrong with this picture.

    • John A Neve says:

      02:18pm | 08/06/10

      Wayne,
      Why must you ignore the truth, Howard put our people into Afghanistan,
      that is fact. Why he did it, know one but him really knows!!
      It is far harder for Rudd to break a commitment, then it was for Howard to make it.
      Thsi war we will never win and it is costing this country big time in both people and money. I suggest Iraq and Afghanistan has cost us more than this governments mistakes.

    • Wayne Fehlhaber says:

      05:34pm | 08/06/10

      John Neve :  I am as aware as anyone else that John Howard committed our troops to Afghanistan in line with the U.N. request to do so.  I amm also aware that Kevin Rudd can order them back home anytime he wishes , but he won’t , because he and his govt. agree with our committment to the war on the Taliban.
      Like most other Australians , i believe that it is far better to fight terrorists on their homesoil rather than our own backyard.  Defeatists such as yourself will never get the message and if you had your way , we would be fighting on our own soil.

    • Super D says:

      07:46pm | 08/06/10

      I agree completely Anjuli, it is simply outrageous that fit young Australians are dying in Afghanistand while fit young Afghanis are getting the hell out.  Frankly any male Afghanis under 40 should be given military training and sent back.  We’re fighting to make their country a better place.  They should at least help.

    • John A Neve says:

      10:43am | 08/06/10

      Sammy,

      I’ll repeat what I have stated before, it was Howard that sent our young people to “war”, not Rudd.
      All Rudd is doing is respecting the commitment made by a previous government, you would not want us to welch out would you?

    • JR says:

      12:02pm | 08/06/10

      So you would rather that we welched out on the ANZUS treay?

    • Brian D says:

      12:40pm | 08/06/10

      Our troops were never ever in a field of war or battle in Iraq.  Total lie.

      Rudd has withdrawn our people from helping the locals to build up Iraqi towns and sent more and more soldiers into the hell of Afghanistan as a pathetic suck up to Obama.

      Then he visits our brave soldiers and puts on a tantrum when he loses his hair dryer.

      Rudd sent our people to Afghanistan.  Face it.  Howard copped endless vile abuse for supporting our greatest ally in trying to find WMD’s that the world (and your hero Rudd) stated that were fact.

      Rudd is the dangerous warmonger in reality.

    • Wayne Fehlhaber says:

      01:10pm | 08/06/10

      John Neve :  Heh heh heh ,  Jonno that tripe won’t fly. !  Rudd can bring back our troops from a sphere of war where we have sufferred casualties at any time at all , but he knows quite well that we should be there.
      One thing about the Iraq involvement , there were no Australian troop fatalities.
      Any spin at all from you eh John eh ? , as long as it supports Labor.

    • James1 says:

      02:11pm | 08/06/10

      JR, the ANZUS Treaty has no relevance when it comes to Afghanistan.

      Brian, that was Australian policy during the Bush administration as well.  And now you are using our brave soldiers as a tool to bash Rudd.  Are you any better than those who abused Howard?

    • Christian ReaL says:

      03:10am | 09/06/10

      Wayne Fehlhaber,
      The fact is Wayne that Howard sent our troops to Iraq based on a misleading lie, about Iraq having weapons of mass destruction, when in fact they did not and it appears that Abbott is continuing the Howard tradition of lying, being caught out on ABC Television for being loose with the truth.
      Also John Neve is right Wayne about Rudd respecting the committment made by the previous government to send our troops to Afghanistan

    • Wayne Fehlhaber says:

      10:05am | 09/06/10

      Christian Real :  Rudd’s continuous stream of lies to the Australian electorate , backflips , backdowns , bungles and destruction of a once healthy economy seem to be getting you down.
      Don’t despair ! old mate , vote for the Coalition they will repair the damage , restore the economy , return the budget to surplus and
      put Australia back into it’s previous international trading position.

    • Christian Real says:

      07:06am | 10/06/10

      Wayne Fehlhaber,
      Why must you and others Liberals/Nationals or whatever you are, continue to use this blog to launch personal attacks on the Prime Minister, when this blog is about two Australian soldiers who lost their lives in Afghanistan.
      It should be a time to reflect on the deaths of these two soldiers and their families here in Australia, that are in mourning.
      There are blogs, where no doubt you liberals can get off all your jollies by attacking Rudd, but it is about time to remember our soldiers, our Australian men and women fighting in foreign Countries, it is not time to use blogs like this to launch personal attacks on our Prime Minister.

    • Andy says:

      11:10am | 08/06/10

      Is it really appropriate to use the deaths of Australian soldiers to push political ideals? Is it just me or does this article, and some of the responses, seem a little distasteful and insensitive?

    • Steve says:

      11:33am | 08/06/10

      Unfortunately wars are part of the political process. Our troops are not sent there to meet new and interesting people, they are sent there to kill the “enemy”.

    • Christian Real says:

      06:35pm | 08/06/10

      Andy
      The deaths of Australian soldiers should not be used as a tool to attack Rudd with, and it is appalling that some of these Liberals persue this line of attack,and it only shows how disrespectful, insensitive and Un-Australian that they really are, by pushing their political agenda in this way.
      They should all hang their heads in shame.

    • Zeta says:

      11:12am | 08/06/10

      Australia needs to re-negotiate what we’re doing in Afghanistan and why.

      We went to Afghanistan to capture or kill tier one Al-Qaeda personalities and destroy the Taliban that protected them in that order. We did that, and as in Iraq we did it more professionally, more efficently and more successfully than the United States military - who spent their time mistreating prisoners, killing civilians and bombing villages. The lesson for our allies in both conflicts was pretty simple - if you want to destroy critical defensive infrastructure and gather valuable intelligence on the enemy without being seen while simultaenously scaring the living daylights out of your opponent - you send in Australians.

      But Operation Slipper isn’t about that. Our Special Forces are really only providing close protection for the reconstruction and mentoring task force. When our troops are mobile, they’re highly effective. When they’re stuck in the middle of the desert building new schools for the Americans to bomb, they’re just as vulnerable as every other allied task force that is pulling out.

      I think we should end Operation Slipper immediately, pull our troops back to Kyrgyzstan and tell the Americans when they’re finished winning ‘hearts and minds’ with Predator drones, we’ll send the SAS back in to do what they do best.

      But if all they want is the world’s most effective terrorist hunters to stand guard over new schools and bridges that the CIA are only going to blow up anyway on shoddy intelligence - why not get Haliburton to do it?

    • Y says:

      12:08pm | 08/06/10

      what are you on about? we did/do what professionally now? didn’t some guy shoot himself in the foot a few years ago, and we had issues bringing back the right body of the guy who killed himself in Iraq? didn’t we let a couple of radio hosts ride and fire tanks for Rove live cameras? let’s not get ahead of ourselves with authoritative claims, shall we?

    • JR says:

      12:47pm | 08/06/10

      Wow Y in one of the most volatile regions in the world you manged to bring up 3 minor incidents in a 9 year + conflict. What a joke our defense force must be.And if you think those incidents are major in the scheme of warfare then I do not know what I could do to help you.

    • Zeta says:

      01:51pm | 08/06/10

      @ Y - But we also secured 30 per cent of Iraqi territory using 300 guys driving the military equivalent of a HiLux, disabled Saddam’s (admittedly WMD free) SCUD capability and captured Iraq’s biggest air base including all of their air combat assets in one week.

      What were our allies doing that week? In a traffic jam, because the off-road capabilities of the HummVee were vastly over estimated. Then they blew up some villages with 300lb bombs. Then they locked up the survivors in Abu Ghraib thus ensuring they’d never run out of eager young insurgents to fight for as long as they were there.

      I think one solider shooting himself in the foot pales in significance to the incompetence of the United States and United Kingdom military industrial complex, whose complete and utter failure in Iraq must rank as one of the biggest cock-ups in military history.

      300 diggers, 30 per cent of the country, 1 week. If we could have sent 900 guys, in a month we’d have secured the entire country, killed everyone worth killing in the Baath Party, and been home in time for the State of Origin.

    • Y says:

      02:22pm | 08/06/10

      so over 5000 Americans died in close to a decade of “warfare”, not to mention British/other coalition troops oh, and the collateral damage (Iraqi civilians) when all we needed all this time was to send in the Aussies. is it takes less than 1000 of our troops to take down a country, why aren’t we a super power too? or at least on the un security council… or something…

    • BTS says:

      02:51pm | 08/06/10

      Could it possibly be because that 30% was empty or at least unimportant that it was secured so fast?

    • Kordez says:

      03:48pm | 08/06/10

      @Y, Sounds about right to me. Americans provide good cover.

    • Markus says:

      04:52pm | 08/06/10

      Y
      Being a superpower is over-rated. Everyone else is always working toward taking you down/wiping you out.
      Think of our special forces as the Spartans of ancient Greece.
      Strongest soldiers man for man, enough to generate influence, but never enough men to dominate all of Greece, nor any real interest in doing so.
      Or ninja. Yeah we are like ninja. That’s a much cooler analogy.

    • Casey says:

      11:42am | 08/06/10

      I don’t think it’s distasteful or insensitive Andy. I think it’s pertinent to look at the real danger that our soldiers are facing in a country that our government says is safe.

      Of course, our soldiers and our presence (military and aid, especially long-term development measures) in Afghanistan are essential to effecting real change and improving security.

      The boats won’t be stopped until people are safe to live in their own country - which is the only reason we should want the boats to stop.

    • TheRealDave says:

      04:11pm | 08/06/10

      Firstly and foremost, my sincerest and deepest apologies go out to the families of the two Digs killed today. They died doing their jobs as professionally as possible and trying to save lives. From what I’ve read so far they were two Combat Engineers from 2CER at Enoggera and they tripped a roadside bomb while dismounted and with the Explosives Dog, who was also killed.

      To clear up a little confusion:

      Iraq: We have a SECDET (Security Detatchment) team of a Company minus (each battlaion rotates the job every 4-6 months) plus some LAVs from 2Cav and or 2/14LH in the Green zone which escorts diplomats around Baghdad and surrounds. We used to have the AMTG which was in charge of the Al Muthannah/ Di Qar AO in Southern Iraq based out of Al Samawah and then Talil and combat teams patrolled the area, mentored the locals and did some reconstruction work. Again it was around a Company minus and they did 6 month deployments. Not a hell of a lot of action, a few signifigant ‘contacts’ but we generally were steered clear of anything big or volatile - politcs as usual. There was also the more specilist AATTI, modelled on the famous AATTV of Vietnam fame, deployed to train the fledgling Iraqi army.

      As part of Kevin Rudds 07 Election strategy he pleged to ‘bring the combat troops home from Iraq’ - and he did. No-one can say otherwise. AMTG was withdraw, as was the AATTI and ALL reconstruction efforts. All we have left in Iraq is the SECDET, still used to provide protection to our Diplomats and will do for the forseeable future. Although there are plenty of dills and Liberal apparatchiks who are trying to tell you that he meant ALL troops when he never said that at all.

      Back to ‘the Ghan’. Our main effort there is the ongoing SF deployment comprising SAS Sqn’s and 4RAR. They are the main combat arms and are used to recce and take out Tier One targets. They work all over the place and aren’t jsut tied down to Oruzgan. Our main effor tin Oruzgan is based around the Mentoring teams trainign the Afhgan Army and Police and the RTF force of tradies doing reconstruction work, building hospitals, water purifaction units, schools, trade schools, roads, government facilities etc Protecting them and their equipment is another Company minus of Infantry which rotates the duties betweenteh RAR Battalions every 6 months.

      Thats a rough picture, very rough. Theres a bit more to it than that but if you think along those lines of who’s where and doing what you won’t be too far wrong.

      Could we be doing more? In a nutshell - shit yeah. The Dutch are ending their commitment so there is a gaping void just screaming for us to step up and pull our fingers out and get stuck into it. From what I’ve read, whilst keen, the Dutch weren’t that good. We have a long history of Counter Insurgency warfare and are experts in the field. Always have been. We out patrol EVERY other fighting force on the planet. Its a skill we’ve had ever since the Boer War. In my opinion our commitment is pretty piss poor and is the ‘cheapest’ we could possibly get away with politically and bears little resemblance to what we need to be doing if we were fair dinkum about getting the job done.

      We aren’t he only ones doing it though. Both the US and UK are trying to do it ‘on the cheap’ as well. Counter Insurgency warfare can never be won without ‘boots on the ground’ and dominating the area. We learnt that lesson in Malalya and Vietnam. The US finally ‘got it’ under Patraeus in Baghdad and Iraq….but for some reason we are continuaing the stupidity in Afghanistan. I think it may have more to do with the fact we backed the wrong horse.

      Or more realistically there isn’t a decent horse to back in that country.

      Damn….I was on a roll and its time to go, might re-visit this later wink

    • Shifter says:

      04:18pm | 08/06/10

      Bring them home.

    • Supercars says:

      08:51pm | 08/06/10

      Bad call Shifter. They should stay to keep the terrorists on the back foot in their backyard, so they don’t get on the front foot in ours.

    • Timmo says:

      06:58am | 09/06/10

      Very hard to fight people in their own country. This war is costing a squillion to fight. The money could be used elsewhere. If citizens want to leave Afghanistan then the west should allow them in, and the ones who want to stay, stay there. After that let’s leave and let the Taliban have the place. Its not exactly heaven on earth. Even tho their ideals are not ours they still have the right to live under sharia law if they want.

      The Russians couldn’t defeat them and had to leave. The Americans supported the Taliban in their fight to remove Russian Troops who had invaded them. Osama Bin Laden was a friend of America at that time but was shafted by them and now we all have to watch out for terrorists in our own backyard.

      What is the real reason for us being there in the first place.? What has it got to do with us?. What is the secret agenda?. Is it oil, gas or minerals. We should get out of there and bring our soldiers home and let them get on with it and make their own way. There’s lots more about afghanistan than our government is telling us. We should stop this war immediately. If the requirement to live in afghanistan under the taliban is for men to wear beards and the women to veil up under the requirements of some religious law, then providing people do that then at least in towing the line they may have a semblance of a life then that’s what they have to do.

      Australia could take on board any afghanis who want to re settle here and leave the rest to the Taliban. I don’t believe it’s a war that we ultimately can win. Let’s get out of there, heads held high and stop getting involved with the Americans regarding these matters. Australia should not be involved in any overseas conflicts. It puts our people in jeopardy and our kids as well.

    • TheRealDave says:

      12:39pm | 09/06/10

      How many times do people need to be told? Honestly, its been nearly 9 years now since 9/11 and the intial invasion of Afghanistan.  Let me be clear for you and others that still think this way.

      THE US DID NOT SUPPORT THE TALIBAN!!!

      Never did, never have, never will.

      Kinda hard for them to support them considering the Taliban were not even around during the Soviet Invasion and Occupation circa 1980-1988.

      The Taliban as we know it started getting together around 1994 to take over Afghanistan.

      If you can’t even get fundamental facts correct why should we care about anything else you may have to say on the subject?

    • Boris says:

      01:05pm | 09/06/10

      we tried that. We left the Taliban alone after they seized power. The US made a few attempts at knocking off Osama in the 90’s, but missed, and so then we ended up with September 11. Or have you forgotten that already?

      The Taliban were providing safe haven’s and training camps for Al-Qeda groups to train and learn how to blow up nightclubs and such. For them, ‘live and let live’ doesn’t apply.

    • Dan says:

      07:25am | 10/06/10

      Except TheRealDave, the people the US supported in 1980-1988 became the Taliban. They didn’t just appear out of thin air.

    • John A Neve says:

      07:32pm | 10/06/10

      TheRealDave,
      Sorry, but you are wrong, the CIA funded the Taliban in the ‘90’s and it wasn’t until later that America and the USSR agreed to remove their interests in Afghanistan.

    • Jacob M says:

      10:18am | 09/06/10

      War! wouldn’t you think we would have evolved a bit smarter? These leaders of countries, need to wake up and grow up and stop sending other peoples kids to die. In days gone by the leader fought with his troops, if they can’t solve it all with reason or trade embargo’s ect then our Pm and any other countries leaders should be on the front line taking the same risks. The Iraq war was a disgrace, they had no chemical weapons, we were lied to. And I don’t think they will ever win in Afghanistan the terrain is against them. And why has Bin Ladin not been caught after all this time?

    • Timmo says:

      09:19am | 10/06/10

      Hey Real Dave, Sorry, you are wrong. Why don’t you google it and find out whether you are right or not before writing that others don’t know anything. You’re a little bit aggressive there Dave, must be American.

    • Adam says:

      04:21pm | 25/08/10

      Australian soldiers & engineers have saved countless Afghan lives. Is one Aussie troop worth more than the lives of 1000’s of innocent Afghans?

      Also, the US backed the Taliban when USSR invaded Afghanistan. I’m sure back then it looked like a good idea though, as helping a country to repel evil invaders isn’t necessarily a bad thing, except that it turned out that the Taliban turned to terrorism later.

 

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