Minister for Defence, Senator the Hon Marise Payne, paid tribute to the service and efforts of the ADF and civilian personnel during a visit to Iraq and Afghanistan this week.
Minister Payne was accompanied by the Chief of Defence Force Air Chief Marshal Mark Binskin during the visit.
On Thursday, Minister Payne travelled to Iraq to meet with members of Australia’s successful Building Partner Capacity Mission at the Taji Military Complex and acknowledged the important contribution Australian personnel are making to Iraq’s long-term stability by supporting the counter-Daesh campaign.
“Australian and New Zealand personnel continue to train Iraqi Security Forces members as they consolidate their hard-fought victory over Daesh,” Minister Payne said.
“We can be immensely proud of the contribution Australian troops are making whether it be those involved at Taji, our Special Operations Task Group that continues to support the Iraqi Counter Terrorism Service, or the men and women of our Air Task Group.
“Over more than three and a half years, Australian personnel have made a highly valued contribution to the international counter-Daesh coalition and it is important we acknowledge their remarkable success, dedication and skill.”
While in Iraq Minister Payne met with Operation Inherent Resolve Commander Lt Gen Paul Funk, who directs the overall international military campaign in Iraq and Syria.
“While Daesh’s so-called caliphate has been destroyed, Daesh remains an ongoing threat and continues to attempt to spread its toxic ideology across the globe, including to the Indo Pacific region,” Minister Payne said.
Australia is committed to supporting Iraq so that its security forces can protect its territory and prevent the re-emergence of Daesh in Iraq.”
On Friday, Minister Payne met with Australian Defence Force personnel in Kabul to thank them for their important contribution to Afghanistan’s long-term security.
Minister Payne acknowledged their hard work training and assisting members of the Afghan National Defence and Security Forces, and working within the NATO-led Resolute Support Mission.
“It was a privilege to meet with some of the Australian military and civilian personnel who are making an important contribution to help build the long-term capacity and capability of the ANDSF and we can be proud of their efforts in the face of a determined enemy,” Minister Payne said.
“The security situation in Afghanistan remains challenging and international support to the ANDSF remains crucial to their long term success.”
“Australian personnel embedded in the NATO-led mission are in integral roles and bring their skills and expertise to this international effort to support Afghanistan.”
Minister Payne met with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani and affirmed Australia’s ongoing commitment to Afghanistan.
“Australia remains steadfast in our support to Afghanistan and I offered Australia’s condolences for the suffering of the Afghan people through the recent senseless terrorist attacks,” Minister Payne said.
Minister Payne also met with the Commander of the Resolute Support Mission General John Nicholson.
“It is critical that Afghanistan does not once again become a breeding ground for terrorists that can threaten the safety and security of Australia and our region,” Minister Payne said.
Last year Australia increased our contribution to the Resolute Support Mission from around 270 to 300 personnel and since 2010 Australia has contributed US$440 million to the Afghan National Army Trust Fund to help equip and sustain Afghan security forces.