The West

Defence names two soldiers killed in Afghanistan
Lance Corporal Mervyn McDonald, left, and Private Nathanael Galagher.

The names of two of the five soldiers killed in Afghanistan have been released by the Australian Defence Force, with one born in Carnarvon.

Defence chief David Hurley named the two soldiers killed in the crash as Private Nathanael Galagher, 23, from Wee Waa in NSW and Lance Corporal Mervyn McDonald, 30, from Carnarvon.

At the request of the families, the names of the three soldiers killed when a rogue Aghan soldier opened fire are yet to be announced.

Australian Defence Force commander General David Hurley released the names today at a press conference with Prime Minister Julia Gillard.

Lieutenant General Hurley said Private Gallagher enlisted in the army in 2007. He was on his second deployment to Afghanistan.

“He is survived by his partner, parents and sister,” Gen Hurley told reporters in Canberra.

Lance Corporal McDonald enlisted in the army in May 1999. He served for five years, left in 2004 and then re-enlisted in 2005.

He was deployed to East Timor and was on his sixth deployment to Afghanistan.

"Corporal McDonald is survived by his fiancee, his mother and stepfather and three brothers,” Gen Hurley said.

The families of three men killed in an insider attack by a member of the Afghan National Army are not yet ready to have their personal details released.

“We all feel this loss deeply,” the general said.

General Hurley said Sergeant Hek Matullah, the man believed to be responsible for shooting the three diggers and wounding two others at a patrol base in the Baluchi Valley this week, arrived in Oruzgan province in mid-July, after completing induction training in Kandahar.

“We are not yet aware of any relationship he has with the Taliban,” he said.

As well as an Australian investigation into the incident, Afghan national security forces have also established a joint team with international forces to conduct its own investigation.

General Hurley said all Australian personnel had now adopted “enhanced force protection measures, including some relocations”.

General Hurley added: “Today and tomorrow are normally days of lulls in activity being Friday - a day of prayer for the Islamic religion.

“That gives us a bit of time to reset for the coming week.”

Prime Minister Julia Gillard and Defence chief David Hurley speak on the deaths of 7 Australian soldiers in Afghanistan. Picture: AAP

The general said the Taliban had claimed responsibility for all insider attacks - also known as green on blue - in Afghanistan.

“The evidence does not necessarily support this,” he said.

“But regardless of these motives, these attacks will be used by the insurgency to undermine our confidence and our relationship with the ANSF.”

The relationship between Australian and Afghan soldiers was based on trust, which was hard to build and maintain, the general said.

“This most recent incident has challenged that trust,” he said.

“We will continue to work with our Afghan partners to strengthen our relationship and improve their capability.”

General Hurley said he had spoken with International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) chief General John Allen on Thursday and he would be in contact with him again on Friday.

It is fair to say that there is a range of emotions in the ADF today,” General Hurley said.

“That's understandable in the circumstances.”

But he said advice from Australian commanders on the ground in Afghanistan should give reassurance.

“They say that there is a positive relationship in the operating basis,” he said.

“The members of the Afghan National Army share our sense of outrage at this attack.

“The ANA has been proactive... and is actively working to capture Hek Matullah.”


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