- Feb 8, 2007
- Land of Swine and Maple Syrup
A great example of cooperation between our two countries and I hope this saves Australian lives.
Australia, Canada strengthen defence ties
September 12, 2011 - 4:19PM
Australia and Canada will strengthen their defence relationship by holding annual top-level talks, after signing a deal for Australian troops in Afghanistan to borrow three armoured vehicles to clear roads of insurgent bombs.
The vehicles are specially designed to detect and counter improvised explosive devices (IEDs) and feature radar to detect IEDs and a robotic arm to defuse concealed devices.
Defence minister Stephen Smith, speaking at a joint media conference with visiting Canadian defence minister Peter MacKay in Canberra, said the vehicles would be available early next year and significantly boost the capability of Australian forces to counter the IED peril.
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"Australia will obtain from Canada some anti-IED capability, protected vehicles with sensor arrangements," Mr Smith told reporters on Monday.
"We will take use of these facilities from early next year as Canada winds down its effort in Kandahar."
Mr MacKay said the counter-IED equipment Canada was loaning Australia was a lifesaver.
"It's that simple. You can't put it any other way," he said.
"In our experience in Afghanistan ... IEDs are the scourge of this war.
"This type of warfare is not going away."
Under the new relationship arrangements, Australia and Canada will now conduct annual, formal ministerial bilateral talks, and hold yearly meetings of defence chiefs and officials.
Australia and Canada would also conduct regular strategic talks on shared procurement issues, such as the Joint Strike Fighter program.
As well, Australia and Canada are considering a plan for exchange postings of defence cadets.
Mr Smith said Canada and Australia had a longstanding and close relationship, with Australian and Canadian troops serving together in World War One, Korea, and most recently in east Timor and Afghanistan, where Canada had lost 157 personnel.
"We have a significant and deeply shared military and defence experience. Most importantly what we share is a great friendship and shared values and virtues," he said.
Mr MacKay said Australia and Canada enjoyed a close and unique relationship and the new arrangements would take the relationship and the ability to operate together to new heights.
"Australia is go-to nation, Australia is a top tier nation when it comes to contributions that you have made - not only in Afghanistan but throughout your history," he said.
"It's instructive that we are able to not only build on that history but look to one another for lessons learned."
Mr Smith and Defence Materiel Minister Jason Clare said the equipment to be borrowed from Canada comprised two Husky vehicles fitted with ground penetrating radar (GPR) and a Buffalo mine resistant vehicle, fitted with a robotic arm and mast-mounted camera.
"The vehicles will be used by Australian Army engineers to detect explosive hazards, including mines and IEDs, to create a safe pathway for troops as they patrol Oruzgan province in Afghanistan," Mr Smith said in a statement.
"The vehicles will be on loan for around 12 months from 2012. In the meantime, work is underway to assess the possible acquisition of a permanent system."
© 2011 AAP