Related ministers and contacts
Senator the Hon Marise Payne
Minister for Defence
- Henry Budd (Minister Payne’s office) 0429 531 143
- Defence Media (02) 6127 1999
21 July 2016
Subjects: Counter-Daesh Defence Ministerial Meeting, Defence portfolio.
The Defence Minister hasn’t ruled out expanding or changing Australia’s role fighting against the Islamic State group. Senator Payne has been attending a meeting of the US-led coalition against Islamic State at a military base outside Washington. It comes just days after it was announced that Australia would extend its training mission to include police and border officials. Senator Payne has told our North America correspondent Stephanie March the summit was a chance to outline our new role.
I think the opportunity for us to indicate an enhancement of our activities in the building partner capacity role on several levels, particularly in relation to training law enforcement but also a greater flexibility in where we are able to do that, particularly in Iraq. We’re also contributing an additional capability, a counter rocket artillery and mortar capability, which will see us potentially bringing 15 ADF personnel to do that as the capability that is currently in place is deployed elsewhere. They are very significant contributions that we’re happy, of course, to contribute to this extremely important activity.
The potential 15 extra personnel to be sent over for the mortar training, is that locked in and committed?
Yes, that’s a firm announcement we have made. The capability that is currently in place at Taji, which is provided by another partner, is to be deployed elsewhere and we will backfill that capability.
And you mentioned the possibility of the forces from Australia being able to be deployed elsewhere. I understand they’re all currently at Base Taji – what would that mean looking forward?
Well it means that it gives us more flexibility in where we are actually located. As long as the appropriate force protection is in place, and they’re not things I would discuss publicly, obviously, but as long as that is in place we would be able to work in areas of need as they are identified by the United States, by the Iraqi Government. I think that’s an important response to what is a really dynamic situation on the ground.
Secretary Carter did stress that we will all need to do more where do you see Australia’s next steps in expanding or extending our mission?
I think it is important to get this underway, obviously. Now the whole process which we are going through at the moment, which has seen some quite significant gains made militarily, we need to be sure that we are sustaining those sites, those communities as the military process moves on. Law enforcement is going to be key to that, we can make a contribution in the training of that and I think that is a very important aspect of Australia’s work. As we see greater focus on new locations for military activity we need to make sure that stability of communities, lawful communities are what is left behind.
Ash Carter did mention this two-day meeting was about looking how to advance and accelerate what the coalition is doing there, do you see Australia possibly having to extend or expand its commitment some time in the immediate future beyond what we’ve done in the last few days?
I think we are taking this meeting by meeting, if you like, discussion by discussion.
It’s quite unusual for the ADF to be training police; can you explain to us how that decision was come to as opposed to sending say members of the Australian Federal Police, IDG Deployment Group to do this kind of work?
There are a number of aspects to that. Firstly, we’re in place – that would be an obvious aspect to this. Secondly, we’ve had extensive experience with members of the Iraqi Forces and have developed a level of familiarity around customs and culture which I think is invaluable. Thirdly, one of the things that training these law enforcement members will need, is training for survivability and the ADF is very well placed to do that. So in a hold capacity, where they are trying to hold a community, in a sustainability role, where they are trying to make sure that the taking of an area is sustainable, then they need to be able to survive.
And you’ve come here for the first time, I think, since the Defence Industry portfolio was moved across to another Minister; how are you feeling about that change?
I’m so enthusiastic about having so much support within the Defence portfolio. We obviously have some really considerable projects ahead of us. Not just surface ships but submarine as well. We have acquisitions for Army. We have the continuing work on the Joint Strike Fighter. There is an extraordinary amount of work to be done in this space and I think the ability to have a senior colleague who is also focused on and committed to that is extraordinarily valuable for me.
We’ve had commentators say that you’ve been liberated, others say it’s been a diminishing of your portfolio; what word would you use to describe it?
I’d say business as usual.
And that’s the Defence Minister Marise Payne speaking with North America Correspondent Stephanie March.
Henry Budd (Minister Payne’s office) 0429 531 143
Defence Media (02) 6127 1999
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