Serving NATO: Most Australian Combat Deaths Since Vietnam
August 30, 2012
Australian military suffers worst day since Vietnam
Five Australian troops were killed in two separate incidents in Afghanistan in what Prime Minister Julia Gillard Thursday described as the nation’s deadliest day in combat since the Vietnam War.
The deaths, which included three killings in an “insider attack” by an Afghan solider, brought to 38 the number of Australian lives lost in the conflict.
“This is a very big toll…this is our single worst day in Afghanistan,” said Gillard, who cut short a trip to the Pacific Islands Forum to return home and deal with the fallout.
“Indeed this is the most lost in combat since the days of the Vietnam War.”
Australia’s acting defence chief Air Marshal Mark Binskin said the first incident occurred inside a patrol base near Tirin Kot in the restive southern Uruzgan province where about 1,500 Australian troops are deployed.
In the second, two Australian special forces soldiers were killed when their helicopter crashed in Helmand province.
“Three Australian soldiers from the 3RAR task group were shot and killed when an individual wearing an Afghan National Army uniform opened fire with an automatic weapon from close range,” he told reporters.
The dead soldiers were aged 40, 23, and 21 and were relaxing at the end of the day when the Afghan opened fire, he added.