In November 2001, Australia joined the United States-led coalition to disrupt the use of Afghanistan as a terrorist base of operations, to remove the Taliban from power and to defeat al Qaeda in Afghanistan. There was no indication at the time that this would be Australia's longest war.
For the Australian Army, the mission in Afghanistan was a test of our people and our capabilities and a monumental achievement. For our soldiers, it was time to put the skills for which they had been trained into practice.
More than 26,000 Australian soldiers served in Afghanistan on Operation Slipper (2001-2014). For them and their families, this was a time of joy and grief, pride and loss. In more than a decade of operations, 41 Australian Army soldiers died in Afghanistan. Many more were wounded, some physically and others mentally. We also saw countless acts of courage and bravery - our soldiers have received commendations, medals and awards for gallantry, including four Victoria Crosses for Australia, the first in almost 40 years. Army units have received citations for gallantry and meritorious service, as well as a unit battle honour.