Minister for Defence Senator the Hon Marise Payne has travelled to Iraq to meet with Australian Defence Force personnel deployed as part of Operation OKRA, Australia’s contribution to the international coalition to defeat Daesh.
Australia is making a substantial military contribution to the coalition ground and air campaign as part of the effort to defeat Daesh in Iraq and Syria.
During her visit Minister Payne met with members of Australia’s Special Operations Task Group, which is providing support to the Iraqi Counter Terrorism Service as part of the Advise and Assist mission, and ADF personnel from Task Group Taji, which is training the Iraqi Security Forces as part of the Building Partner Capacity mission at the Taji Military Complex.
“The expertise, skill and dedication of our ADF personnel and their commitment to these important training missions have been invaluable in assisting the Iraqi Security Forces in their battle against violent extremism,” Minister Payne said.
“With coalition support the capacity of the Iraqi Security Forces has improved markedly and they have now driven Daesh out of more than 40 per cent of the territory they once held in Iraq.
“Our ADF are making a significant difference in the campaign and their experience and skills are exceptionally highly regarded by both the international coalition and the government of Iraq.
“It’s not easy being so far from home for extended periods and I recognise the sacrifices ADF personnel and their families are making on our behalf.”
During her visit Minister Payne met with Iraqi Prime Minister Dr Haider al-Abadi and Defence Minister Khalid al-Obeidi to reinforce Australia’s commitment to helping Iraq defeat Daesh and to discuss the Government’s recent decision to broaden the scope of Australia’s Building Partner Capacity mission to include Iraqi law enforcement agencies.
Minister Payne also met with the head of the international coalition, Operation Inherent Resolve Commander Lieutenant General Sean Macfarland, to discuss the next steps in the coalition’s campaign plan to assist the Iraqi Security Forces in their battle against Daesh.
Imagery of the Minister’s visit is available at: http://images.defence.gov.au/S20162003
Henry Budd (Minister Payne’s office) 0429 531 143
Defence media (02) 6127 1999