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Australian infantryman's combat badge
A short history of MTF-2

Colonel Darren Huxley DSC
CO MTF - 2
Author: COL Darren Huxley

On the 17th of May 2010, under the pseudonym Battle Group Tiger, personnel from 27 different units and headquarters across all three services of the Australian Defence Force concentrated in Darwin for operational service in Afghanistan. On the 5th of June the 5 RAR led Battle Group started its Mission Specific Training and between the 1st and 10th of September it completed a Mission Rehearsal Exercise as its final preparation for combat. In the space of four months the 5 RAR Battle Group completed three collective field activities; 19 individual courses or training activities; had up to three weeks of leave (if lucky), and prepared approximately 1200 personnel for potential service in the Middle East. It was a whirlwind of preparation, particularly for the administrative staff, with Glen Snijders (Chief Clerk) and Noel Allport (QM) drowning in paperwork and equipment respectively.

The 5 RAR Battle Group deployed on Operation Slipper as a Task Group of the Australian Middle East Joint Task Force 633 and was assigned under NATO operational control to Combined Team Uruzgan; a newly established coalition headquarters commanded by a U.S. Army 06 – Colonel Jim Crieghton. The Battle Group officially commenced its mission as the second Australian Mentoring Task Force (MTF-2) on the 21st of October 2010 – taking over in Uruzgan Province from the 6 RAR Battle Group.

MTF-2 operated in three major regions within Uruzgan: Combat Team Delta, initially under the command of MAJ Roy Henry and WO2 Dave Allen, then MAJ Marek Janiszewski and WO2 Andrew ‘Dusty’ Miller, patrolled the Dorafshan bowl, the Baluchi Valley and journeyed to all reaches of the Chora district. Combat Team Bravo, led by MAJ B.J. Pearce and WO2 Grant ‘Buck’ Rogers, then WO2 Stephen Logan, initially conducted operations in the Dorafshan bowl but then settled down to the good life in the Mirabad Valley. Combat Team Charlie, commanded by MAJ Dave French and WO2 Shane StClair, then WO2 Leslie Hapgood, roamed the Deh Rawud district and forayed into the lively Tangi and Tagaw Valley as often as they could.

Between the 21st of October 2010 and the 25th of June 2011, MTF-2 conducted 12 major operations in conjunction with its coalition and Afghan partners. It designed and assisted in the construction of five company sized patrol bases and provided oversight for the Afghan National Army’s construction of an additional two bases. It re-supplied up to nine Australian bases every month by ground convoy and almost everyday by air, and administered, equipped and commanded in excess of 1000 personnel at the height of operational activity. It mentored, indirectly, in-excess of two and a half thousand Afghan soldiers in everyday military tasks from the functioning of a Brigade Headquarters to the routine of a rifle section. Under the CS and CSS team leaders of majors Mick Spruce (7 RAR), Grant Chambers
(1st Armd Regt) and Nick Buemer it advanced the 4th Afghan Brigade to new levels of capability and gave them significant confidence in their own operational independence. Finally, on the 25th of June 2011, the MTF-2 flag came down from its pole in Tarin Kot and the 2 RAR Battle Group took up the mantle of the third Australian Mentoring Task Force.

Three brave Australians gave their lives in support of the MTF-2 mission and five were severely wounded. A number of other courageous personnel either suffered minor wounds or endangered their own lives to save or assist others. Whilst the sheer volume of individual actions prohibits a full account of our tale here, all personnel displayed courage, commitment and loyalty befitting an Australian unit at war.

Headquarters MTF - 2 Afghanistan

Headquarters 5 RAR / MTF-2 at Multinational Base Tarin Kot, Afghanistan.