Rudd, Kelly visit our troops

Minister for Defence Materiel Mike Kelly - and Defence Minister designate should Labor win the election - and Prime Minister Kevin Rudd paid a surprise visit to Australian military and civilian personnel in Afghanistan over the weekend.

Accompanying Mr Rudd and Dr Kelly were Chief of the Defence Force General David Hurley, Australia's Ambassador to Afghanistan Jon Philp and Mr Rudd's wife Therese Rein.

The group met members of the Australian Defence Force and the Australian-led Provincial Reconstruction Team (PRT) at Multi National Base-Tarin Kowt (MNB-TK) and were briefed by Australian and Coalition commanders.

The Prime Minister thanked Australia's servicemen and women for the vital work they are doing in building the capacity of the Afghan security forces, to prevent Afghanistan from again becoming a safe haven for terrorists.

He also paid tribute to the 40 Australian servicemen who have lost their lives in Afghanistan.

The surprise visit comes as Australia prepares to hand over full security responsibility for Uruzgan province to the Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF) by the end of the year.

Dr Kelly said it was an important time to honour the work of Australian personnel in Uruzgan as Australia's mission there draws to a close.

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