Minister for Defence Marise Payne has visited Australian Defence Force personnel in Afghanistan and the Middle East to acknowledge their service and efforts safeguarding Australian interests.
CAPTION: Minister for Defence Marise Payne addresses Australian Defence Force and civilian personnel at Camp Baird in the Middle East Region. Photo by WO2 Andrew Hetherington
Minister Payne yesterday thanked personnel in Afghanistan for their ongoing dedication and commitment.
“ADF personnel serving in Afghanistan are playing a vital role in supporting the NATO-led Resolute Support mission as it continues to develop the capability of the Afghan National Defense and Security Forces,” Minister Payne said.
During the visit to Afghanistan, Minister Payne met with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani to hear his assessment of the current security situation and to reiterate Australia’s ongoing support to the long-term security of Afghanistan. The Minister also met with Defence Minister Lieutenant General Abdullah Khan Habibi to discuss the ADF’s mentoring and advisory roles.
During a meeting with the Deputy Commander Resolute Support Mission, Lieutenant General Sandy Storrie welcomed the Australian Government’s recent announcement that it will continue to support the security of Afghanistan by pledging ongoing financial assistance of US$100 million annually until 2020.
As part of the visit, Minister Payne spent time with ADF personnel deployed to the Middle East Region as part of Operation OKRA’s Air Task Group and Operation ACCORDION.
“Australians serving in the Middle East play a vital role in the fight against Daesh and every day they and their families make great personal sacrifices to help uphold the safety and security of Australia,’’ Minister Payne said.
“The Air Task Group’s operations have contributed significantly to the recent successes of the Iraqi Security Forces in the fight against Daesh.
“These operations would not be possible without the immense professionalism and dedication of ADF support staff deployed as part of Operation ACCORDION.”
During her visit to the Middle East Minister Payne also met with United Arab Emirates Under Secretary of Defence Mattar Salim Al Dhaheri to discuss their approach to countering the messages of Daesh and the spread of violent extremism, including through the use of social media. It follows the Minister’s recent meeting with United Arab Emirates Minister of State for Defence Affairs Mohammed Al Bowardi at the Counter-ISIL Defence Minister’s meeting in Washington in July..
Minister for Defence 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.
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.