CANBERRA–Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbot attended a ceremony on Saturday at the Australian War Memorial to mark the completion of Operation Slipper in Afghanistan, Australia’s longest war in history.
Launched in 2001 after the 9/11 terror attack on the United States, Operation Slipper saw the deployment of more than 34,500 Australian men and women from the Australian Defense Force personnel, the Australian Federal Police, and other agencies.
In the course of the Afghanistan campaign, 41 Australians were killed and 263 wounded. Abbott said there are also hundreds more who have unseen wounds.
“Their mission is over, but our mission to stand with the veterans continues,” he said.
Apart from the Australian War Memorial ceremony attended by 2, 000 personnel, parades were also held in state and territory capital cities and in Queensland city of Townsville.
Abbott encouraged Australians to show their support to the veterans returning from the controversial war in Afghanistan so that they don’t feel “unloved and unappreciated” as some Vietnam veterans did.
“That (Afghanistan) war ended not with victory, and not with defeat, but with hope, hope for a better Afghanistan, and for a safer world,” Abbott said.
Australia was also involved in the war in Iraq. Though withdrawing all troops from Iraq in 2009, Australia again sent 200 military personnel to Iraq to perform a training and consultation role in 2014.
Earlier this month, Abbott announced to send an additional 300 troops to Iraq to train specialist Iraqi soldiers in the fight against Islamic State (IS) militants.