Australian Defence Force (ADF) members and Defence civilians who served on Operation Slipper came together to march in force earlier this year as official welcome home parades were held across the nation to mark the end of Australia’s longest military operation.
Parades were held in all capital cities on 21 March 2015 in honour of the 34,500 ADF personnel and Defence civilians who deployed to Afghanistan and the Middle East on Operation Slipper between 2001 and 2014.
Families, friends and members of the community lined city streets to show their appreciation to Operation Slipper veterans. The commemorative events also honoured those who did not make it home and those who returned with permanent wounds.
The Chief of Navy, Vice Admiral Tim Barrett, proudly watched on in Perth and said the parade was an opportunity to reflect on the many achievements that have been made over the course of Australia’s longest war.
‘We have also felt the deepest sorrow for the 41 Australian soldiers who paid the ultimate sacrifice and the hundreds of veterans who continue to live with physical and mental wounds’, he said.
The then Chief of Air Force, Air Marshal Geoff Brown, was Reviewing Officer at the march in Adelaide. He praised the efforts of all Australian personnel who deployed.
‘Your contribution has ranged from providing security, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance, airlift, combat support, development and construction projects to improve the lives of the Afghan people’, he said.
The then Chief of Army, Lieutenant General David Morrison, marched through the streets of Brisbane with the troops.
‘Working alongside the Afghan National Army and coalition forces, our Defence Force has assisted the Afghans to develop governance, construct and redevelop local infrastructure, and made significant ongoing improvements to security, stability and prosperity’, he said.
At the national parade in Canberra, the Prime Minister, the Hon Tony Abbott MP, thanked the thousands of Operation Slipper veterans for their service. He acknowledged the significant contribution made by Australia in Afghanistan.
‘The war ended not with victory, and not with defeat, but with hope: hope for a better Afghanistan, and for a safer world.
‘Afghanistan is a better country because Australia was there’, he said.
Although Operation Slipper has ended, ADF personnel continue to provide support and assistance through the NATO-led Resolute Support mission, which is focused on training, advising and assisting the Afghan National Defense and Security Forces and Afghan security institutions at the operational, institutional and ministerial levels.
‘It was good to march in Perth and get the recognition and understanding of what we did on Operation Slipper.’
‘I was really proud to serve my country and my family back home. After I saw the ramp ceremonies, it meant a lot to see Australians pay their respects.’
‘It was a good way to show exactly what we have accomplished as a country and as individuals and to pay our respects to those who didn’t come back.’