Change of command in the Middle East

Major General Susan Coyle has transferred command of Australian Forces in the Middle East region to Rear Admiral Michael Rothwell.

CAPTION: Outgoing Commander Joint Task Force 633 Major General Susan Coyle and her replacement Rear Admiral Michael Rothwell sign the papers to transfer command of Australian forces in the Middle East, watched by incoming Command Warrant Officer WO1 Mark Retallick. Photo by Sergeant Ben Dempster.

The transition occurred during a ceremony at Australia’s main operating base in the Middle East yesterday, 25 November 2020.

Major General Coyle said her tenure featured significant milestones, changes and challenges across the area of operations.

“I am honoured to have not only had the privilege to command Joint Task Force 633, but to have also been a witness and play a part of this extraordinary chapter in the history of Australian operations in the Middle East,” Major General Coyle said.


Changes that have occurred during 2020 include:

• The completion of Task Group Taji and air support to Operation Okra;
• The conclusion of Australia’s contribution to the Afghan National Army Officer Academy, and Train, Advise, Assist Command – South under Operation Highroad;
• Preparations for the drawdown of maritime commitments under Operation Manitou; and,
• The ongoing impact of COVID-19 in the region [including dealing with more than half of all ADF cases of the disease].

As Commander of Joint Task Force 633, Rear Admiral Rothwell will be responsible for command and control of all Australian Defence Force operations in the Middle East region, including oversight of nearly 900 Defence personnel.

“I am privileged to have been given this opportunity to lead Australia’s military and public service personnel on operations,” Rear Admiral Rothwell said.

“I look forward to building upon the significant contributions made by Major General Coyle, her predecessors, and all who have served in the Middle East region.”

Rear Admiral Rothwell’s previous role was as Head of Information and Communications Technology Operations within the Chief Information Officer Group.






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Posted by Brian Hartigan

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