The arrival of Force Protection Element 14 – FPE-14 – in Kabul recently came at an interesting juncture in Afghanistan’s more recent war-torn history.
CAPTION: Force Protection Element 14 in Kabul, Afghanistan, on Operation Highroad. Photo by Corporal Tristan Kennedy.
After delays because of COVID-19 restrictions, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo opened the Intra-Afghan Negotiations in Doha, Qatar, on September 12.
Officer Commanding FPE-14 Major Christopher Hall said the negotiations brought Afghans together in an effort to chart a new course of enduring peace for their country.
“The negotiations will hopefully change the environment we work in and the soldiers of 1RAR are adaptable and ready for that,” Major Hall said.
FPE-14 comprises soldiers from the 1st Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment (1RAR), which took over from 5RAR-based FPE-13.
Their mission is to protect Australian and Coalition forces as they train, advise and assist Afghan security forces.
“Major James Byers and his FPE-13 team gave us an excellent handover,” Major Hall said.
Members of FPE-14 were eager to start their deployment after their mandatory two-week COVID-19 quarantine period.
“We also had to carefully manage COVID-19 restrictions during our training which would normally involve physical contact, such as first aid,” Major Hall said.
FPE-14 will operate from the Hamid Karzai International Airport during its six-month deployment.
Task Group Afghanistan is a part of the ADF’s Operation Highroad supporting the NATO-led Operation Resolute Support.
EDITOR’S NOTE: Defence’s mentioning of the US-led Intra-Afghan Negotiations in Qatar while ignoring the release of Hekmatullah as a precondition of those negotiation is, in our opinion, insensitive at the very least – and not at all compatible with the story lead “an interesting juncture in Afghanistan’s more recent war-torn history”.
Sapper James Martin, Lance Corporal Stjepan ‘Rick’ Milosevic and Private Robert Poate were killed in an insider attack by Sergeant Hekmatullah at Patrol Base Wahab in Afghanistan on 29 August 2012.
Hekmatullah was captured in Pakistan and deported back to Afghanistan in October 2013, where he remained in jail until he was transferred to Qatar earlier this month pending release as a condition of the peace negotiations.