People who deployed as part of Operation SLIPPER will have their service recognised with a series of marches across Australia on 21 March.
Marches in every state and territory capital, and in Townsville, will honour about 35,000 Australians who took part in the operation.
Chief of the Defence Force, Air Chief Marshal Mark Binskin said it was appropriate to acknowledge and credit those who deployed on the operation which ended in December last year.
“Now is a good chance to get people together and recognise the dedication, the sacrifices many made and the ultimate sacrifice that 41 made,” Air Chief Marshal Binskin said.
“Some units had small welcome home parades on their return, but this one will bring everyone together for a formal homecoming to acknowledge every person’s service during the deployment.”
It is also an opportunity to recognise the many successes of Operation SLIPPER, Australia’s longest operation stretching from 2001 to 2014.
“Last year Afghanistan successfully held two Presidential elections, a primary and a run-off, as well as Provincial elections,” Air Chief Marshal Binskin said.
“They led this historic effort with their own security, their own planning and their own people.”
“It led to the peaceful transition to a new president. That in itself has got to be the ultimate success for the years we put into the Afghan National Security Forces and the years we put in ourselves in Uruzgan province.”
In the decade since his first visit to Afghanistan, Air Chief Marshal Binskin observed the rapid development of infrastructure.
“In January 2004, I had been on a night flight over Afghanistan and there were very few lights to be seen,” he said.
“Then in 2010-11 flying into TK in a C-130 I was amazed to see all the lights of Kandahar City and then, further on, how difficult it was to see the base at Tarin Kot from the air because of all the lights in TK itself.”
Thanks to Operation SLIPPER, the Chief said the Australian Defence Force learned to not “stand still” in regards to working together to get the job done and with evolving the military equipment and thinking needed during the long operation.
“We had personnel from the three services either on SLIPPER or involved in those other operations supporting SLIPPER.
“We have HMAS Success in the Gulf at the moment, as pert of Operation MANITOU, continuing what has been an almost continuous presence since 1991. We also developed the Heron capability over the five years it was deployed and had Air Force, Navy and Army personnel on the ground supporting it.
“The ability to prepare the forces, the ability to deploy the forces and logistically support the forces, has developed our joint operational capability to a degree where people just accept that the way we do business now is the way we should do business.”
Apart from Australian Defence Force personnel who served on Operation SLIPPER, Australian Public Servants and Federal Police personnel who also served, are invited to march.
“They were a key part of ‘Team Australia’ during our deployments, in particular to Uruzgan,” the Chief said.
“While the ADF was predominantly the deployed force we couldn’t have done it without their support.”