(News.com.au) - AN Australian soldier seriously wounded in southern Afghanistan will be flown to Germany for specialised treatment.
Sergeant Michael Lyddiard, of Townsville-based 3rd Combat Engineer Regiment, was injured when a roadside bomb that he was trying to defuse exploded.
The Defence Department said Sergeant Lyddiard was involved in a "route clearance task" during Operation Spin Ghar when the bomb was discovered.
"In the aftermath of the incident, he was provided with emergency care at the scene and was then evacuated by ISAF (International Security Assistance Force) helicopter to a nearby surgical facility at Tarin Kowt," the Chief of the Defence Force, Air Chief Marshal Angus Houston, said.
The blast came one day after the funeral in Perth of Special Air Service sergeant Matthew Locke, killed in action by a Taliban sniper 11 days ago during the same operation.
Yesterday, Sergeant Lyddiard's condition was described as "serious" and plans were being made for his transfer to a US forces hospital in Germany.
He is the 28th Digger to be wounded in Afghanistan. There have been three fatalities - Sergeant Locke, Trooper David Pearce, who died in an October 8 roadside bomb blast, and SAS soldier Andrew Russell, killed in 2002 when the vehicle in which he was travelling hit a land mine.
Australian soldiers serving in Afghanistan will now be eligible to wear the NATO medal.
Air Chief Marshal Houston said the decision was recognition of the professionalism of Australian forces and the significant contribution they were making to security and reconstruction.
The commander of the NATO-led IASF had made the offer, which had been accepted by the federal Government. "This formal offer (by the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation commander) reinforces that Australian Defence Force personnel are held in very high regard by our coalition partners," the defence chief said.
Trooper Pearce and Sergeant Locke would be awarded the medal posthumously, he said.