Australia will commit more troops to Iraq following…
Today* [see note below] Minister for Defence Marise Payne attended the Counter-Daesh Defence Ministers’ Meeting in Washington.
FILE PHOTO: An Australian counter rocket, artillery, mortar (CRAM) radar in Tarin Kot, Afghanistan. Photo by Brian Hartigan
The productive meeting focused on how the Coalition could accelerate and better co-ordinate efforts to defeat Daesh in Iraq and Syria and to stop the expansion of Daesh’s global networks.
As previously announced* [a press release which CONTACT did not receive], as part of the increased campaign, Australia will expand the scope of Building Partner Capacity mission to train Iraqi law-enforcement agencies.
Australia has also authorised the deployment of an additional 15 ADF personnel to provide a counter rocket, artillery and mortar capability at Taji, which is currently being provided by another Coalition member.
Minister Payne also held bilateral meetings with her counterparts from the United Arab Emirates, the United Kingdom and the United States.
UAE Minister of State for Defence Affairs Mohammed Al Bowardi and Minister Payne discussed our defence engagement and our shared commitment to defeating Daesh.
United Kingdom Secretary of State for Defence Michael Fallon and Minister Payne discussed Coalition operations in Iraq, Syria and Afghanistan, and co-operation in the Indo-Pacific region, including the ongoing importance of the Five Power Defence Arrangements.
US Defense Secretary Ash Carter and Minister Payne discussed mutual commitment to defeating Daesh, the need for South China Sea claimants to seek to resolve their disputes peacefully in accordance with international law, and affirmed the importance of the Force Posture Initiatives.
* Defence’s press release re 15 more troops was receive by me (and every other Australian media outlet) TODAY at 14:19 in the afternoon of Thursday 21 July – which was 00:19 in the morning of 21 July in Washington.
However, I know, because I was paying attention, that this meeting actually took place YESTERDAY, 20 July. While this could easily be dismissed as ‘an easy mistake’ or ‘human error’, it is in my eyes a very poor reflection on a military organisation that is supposed to work on coordinated timings.
Once upon a time when I was newish in uniform and turned up late for an appointment, it was explained to me very eloquently by an officer why time matters in the military. “H hour is a predesignated time when the bombs drop or the artillery is lifted or the infantry go over the top. You do not want to be late for H hour – and so, you will never be late for an appointment again, will you soldier? – if only to practice for H hour.”
I never forgot that lesson.
Defence’s Media Operations have. And will probably blame ‘stupid Aussie media’ for getting their facts wrong when it’s wrongly reported (if it’s reported) on tonight’s news and in tomorrow’s papers.
* Re the ‘previously announced’ statement I missed – I (and presumably other media outlets) never received that press release, but it was posted to the minister’s web site on 20 July.
* Another point I will make about this whole story is it is clearly intimated in the press release I did receive on 21 July (above) that the commitment of 15 extra troops and the CRAM capability was a direct result of Minister Payne’s attendance at and discussions during the meeting in Washington on 20 July. Yet, all the specific details, including the same wording, of both press releases are contained in this ABC story dated 19 July, where it is said the expansion of mandate and the expansion by 15 troops + CRAM were discussed and decided and announced by PM Turnbull and US VP Joe Biden during their meeting in Sydney on Tuesday 19 July.