Minister for Defence Marise Payne has delivered an official update on Australia’s contribution to the international counter-Daesh coalition.
CAPTION: No. 462 Squadron cyberspace security specialists conduct information-assurance activities on deployed mission systems at the main air operating base in the Middle East Region. Photo by Corporal Brenton Kwaterski.
In her statement Minister Payne said Australia’s six F/A-18F Super Hornets would return home in January, marking the end of Australia’s air-strike operations in Iraq and Syria.
“Australia has reviewed our contribution with our Iraqi and Coalition partners following the announcement of Iraq’s liberation from Daesh by Prime Minister of Iraq Haider al-Abadi earlier this month,” she said.
“The battlefield success against Daesh means our own Operation Okra has now reached a natural transition point and our strike aircraft will begin returning home early in the New Year.”
She said that since October 2014, Australia’s Hornet pilots and support personnel had made a significant contribution in support of the Iraqi Security Forces and she commend all the ADF personnel who contributed over that period for their dedication, skill and professionalism.
“Australia’s Air Task Group has made a valued contribution to coalition operations against Daesh that is highly regarded by the US, Iraq and coalition partners.”
“The strike aircraft deployed as part of the Air Task Group conducted more than 2700 sorties against Daesh targets in both Iraq and eastern Syria.”
Minister Payne said Australia’s E-7A Wedgetail and KC-30A refuelling aircraft would continue to support counter-Daesh coalition operations.
“Australia will also continue its training mission, which involves around 300 personnel at Task Group Taji and around 80 personnel in a Special Operations Task Group.
“Australia is committed to supporting the Iraqi Security Forces as it clears the remaining pockets of Daesh fighters in rural areas and ensuring the long-term stability of Iraq.”