Black Hawk crash Diggers named

The two Australian soldiers killed in a Black Hawk accident in Afghanistan yesterday have been described as an enthusiastic young private with a ''can do'' attitude, and a quick witted and highly professional soldier.

Prime Minister Julia Gillard announced this afternoon that the two special forces soldiers were Private Nathanael Galagher and Lance Corporal Mervyn McDonald.

Private Galagher, 23, was born in Wee Waa and enlisted in the army in 2007. He was on his second deployment to Afghanistan.

Private Galagher is survived by his partner Jessie, parents and sister.

''Private Galagher always put in 100 per cent in everything he did,'' a statement from Defence said. ''He was an enthusiastic, young soldier who was very well respected by his mates.''

Lance Corporal McDonald, 30, was born in Carnarvon and joined the army in 1999. He was on his sixth deployment to Afghanistan and his survived by his fiance Rachael, mother, stepfather and three brothers.

He was described as ''quick witted and brought a positive energy to both his unit comrades and to all those who served with him''.

''He was a highly professional soldier'' with a ''quiet nature and humility''. Both soldiers were from the 2nd Commando Regiment.

Chief of the Defence Force David Hurley expressed his condolences and said that ''all evidence'' at this stage still pointed to an accident with the helicopter.

The Black Hawk incident came during a horror 24 hours for Australia in Afghanistan. Earlier, three Australian soldiers were killed in a so-called ''green on blue'' attack in Oruzgan.

The hunt continues for the Afghan soldier who shot and killed the three soldiers and wounded two others.

Chief of the Defence Force David Hurley said that Afghan, Australian and international forces were pursuing the man - identified as Hek Matullah - using a combination of patrols, human intelligence and electronic sources.

Ms Gillard said the families of the soldiers in the so-called ''green on blue'' incident were requesting privacy.

The rogue soldier attacked the Australian personnel at the patrol base in the Baluchi Valley, north of the main base at Tarin Kowt on Wednesday night, before escaping.

Defence Minister Stephen Smith said today Hek Matullah was known to the Oruzgan chief of police and Australian forces.

"He's not in our area of operation. He's on the run, but he continues to be pursued," he said.

It is understood the soldier was a relatively new recruit, having recently arrived at the base after training in Kandahar.

General Hurley said at this stage there was no concrete link between the attack and the Taliban. ''The evidence does not necessarily support this,'' he said.

He added that despite additional security measures for Australian troops, there was no way of guaranteeing against similar incidents in the future.

''There's no 100 per cent guarantee to stop it,'' he said.

Mr Smith also cautioned that Australia may never find out why the soldier turned on Australian troops.

"When we have examined previous terrible [green on blue] events, we've found it very difficult to come to a conclusion on what the motivation has been," he said.

Mr Smith echoed Ms Gillard's commitment to keep Australian troops in Afghanistan until the planned 2014 withdrawal and dismissed independent MP Andrew Wilkie's comments that Ms Gillard and her predecessors Kevin Rudd and John Howard had "blood on their hands".

Ms Gillard also steered clear of Mr Wilkie's remarks, saying she would not engage in domestic politics at this time: ''even if some ugly language is being used in the course of it".

Today, Opposition Leader Tony Abbott said that Australia should not leave Afghanistan before 2014.

"I don't think Australians want us to be a country ... that cuts and runs," he told Channel Nine.

"Having spoken to lots of soldiers, they think they are making a difference."

Greens Senator Scott Ludlam repeated his party's long-standing call to bring troops home from Afghanistan.

"What were we doing there in the first place?" he asked on ABC TV.

He said the deployment had suffered from "scope creep", moving from catching al-Qaeda to nation building.

Macquarie University counter-terrorism expert Clive Williams said that if Hek Matullah remained in the Baluchi Valley area he would be "vulnerable" to capture. But expressed concerns that the soldier might have gone to Pakistan.

"If he goes to Pakistan, obviously he's out of reach pretty much," Professor Williams said.

- with AAP

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The story Black Hawk crash Diggers named first appeared on The Sydney Morning Herald.

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