Minister for Defence Marise Payne attended a meeting of defence ministers in Paris yesterday to discuss progress in the coalition’s military campaign to counter Daesh.
CAPTION: Australian Army officer Lieutenant Curtis Tofa demonstrates marksmanship techniques to an Iraqi Army soldier at Taji Military Complex in Iraq. Photo by Leading Seaman Jake Badior.
The Paris meeting comes at a pivotal point in the campaign, with operations underway to liberate the city of Mosul, Daesh’s last major stronghold in Iraq.
“Daesh is under increasing pressure – it is losing territory, it is losing finances, it is losing fighters and it is losing battles. But we need to keep up the momentum,” Minister Payne said.
“This campaign is complex and will take some time.
“The forces fighting against Daesh are fighting with skill and bravery, with the support of the coalition.
“Australia is a leading contributor to the US-led coalition to counter Daesh.
“The ADF, operating as part of the broader US-led coalition, is providing support to the Iraqi Security Forces during the Mosul offensive, through the Air Task Group’s air operations, and the Building Partner Capacity and Advise and Assist missions.
“As Daesh continues to lose ground in Iraq and Syria, the defence ministers also discussed the importance of the coalition’s efforts in tackling the threat of Daesh-directed or -inspired violent extremism around the world.
“The liberation of Mosul from Daesh control will be a decisive blow to the group, but it will not the end of the terrorist threat.”
Minister Payne said meeting also considered how to sustain the counter-Daesh coalition so that it could effectively address the ongoing security and stabilisation challenges faced by Iraq and Syria.
Minister Payne and French Defence Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian agreed to strengthen the Australia-France defence relationship by establishing formal annual Australia-France defence ministers’ meetings.
Minister Payne said Australia and France had a close and long-standing defence relationship, based on shared interests in contributing to the rules-based global order and strong cooperation in the Pacific.
“Building on these links, and in light of the cooperation that we will have for decades to come under the Future Submarine Program, we will establish formal defence ministers’ meetings,” Minister Payne said.
“In partnership with DCNS and Lockheed Martin Australia, Australia is now positioned to design a submarine that meets our unique capability requirements.
“Australia and France already have a close bilateral defence relationship, which will be further strengthened through Australia’s Future Submarine Program.”
During her meeting with her UK counterpart, Secretary Michael Fallon, Minister Payne discussed a range of issues including developments in Iraq and Syria, and broader security and stability issues.
Minister Payne also acknowledged the UK’s BAE Systems interest in Australia’s Future Frigate program and welcomed the broader value of Australia’s defence-industry cooperation with the United Kingdom.
Her meeting with Italian Minister of Defence Roberta Pinotti provided an opportunity to discuss the campaign against Daesh and Australia’s naval shipbuilding program and acknowledge participation by Italy’s Fincantieri in Australia’s Future Frigate program.