Defence Minister Linda Reynolds has officially farewelled Australia’s 10th rotational training force of more than 1,000 ADF personnel prior to deployment to Iraq.
The 10th rotation of Task Group Taji will be a landmark rotation, with the Iraqi School of Infantry leading the majority of training for the Iraqi security forces (ISF), and the Australian and New Zealand contingent providing a mentoring function to the Iraqi school.
Minister Reynolds said since 2014, Task Group Taji has provided a major contribution to the training of the ISF.
"The ADF has made significant progress in enhancing the capabilities of the ISF to defeat Daesh. This progress means Australia is in a position to reduce our contribution from around 250 to 120 ADF personnel," Minister Reynolds explained.
Australia is committed to the US-led Global Coalition to combat Daesh and will continue to co-operate closely with international partners to ensure Daesh does not reconstitute.
"As Minister for Defence, I am so proud of their efforts and on behalf of all Australians, I thank them and the other 2,500 service men and women who have served at Taji," Minister Reynolds said.
Task Group Taji is a combined Australia-New Zealand military training force deployed under Operation OKRA to build the capacity of the ISF.
"The ADF’s local partner, the Iraqi School of Infantry Non-Commissioned Officer II, is ready to deliver most of its training without the assistance of coalition partners," Minister Reynolds added.
Other elements of Operation OKRA, including Australia’s support to the Iraqi Counter Terrorism Service and the contribution of Australian air assets will continue their operational activities for the duration of their deployment.
Operation OKRA is the ADF's contribution to the international effort to combat the Daesh (also known as ISIL) terrorist threat in Iraq and Syria. Australia's contribution is being closely co-ordinated with the Iraqi government, Gulf nations and a broad coalition of international partners.
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About 450 ADF personnel are deployed to the Middle East in support of Operation OKRA. This includes personnel in the Australian/New Zealand-led Task Group Taji (TG Taji), the Special Operations Task Group (SOTG) and embedded personnel in the Combined Joint Task Force Operation Inherent Resolve.