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COVID-19: Australia to draw down on Middle Eastern presence

COVID-19: Australia to draw down on Middle Eastern presence

In the wake of the continued COVID-19 outbreak, the ADF is making adjustments to personnel deployed to both Iraq and Afghanistan. As a result of the disruptions, the ADF is temporarily relocating non-essential personnel.

In the wake of the continued COVID-19 outbreak, the ADF is making adjustments to personnel deployed to both Iraq and Afghanistan. As a result of the disruptions, the ADF is temporarily relocating non-essential personnel.

Minister for Defence Linda Reynolds said Australia regularly reviews its operational requirements in concert with coalition partners and in consultation with the Iraq and Afghanistan governments.

“Non-essential personnel will be relocated to Australia’s main logistics base in the Middle East and those who are close to concluding their operational duties will be able to return home,” she said.

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“This temporary measure is to preserve the safety of our people and partners and to limit the spread of COVID-19 in operational areas."

Though the minister explained that there will be no changes made as yet to the force-protection role of ADF personnel in Iraq and Afghanistan, she did note that the outbreak has resulted in the temporary suspension of training missions in the countries. 

Defence stated that Australia will review its force posture on an ongoing basis, and that training in the region will continue once deemed safe. 

The news comes just days after Afghanistan recorded its first known death from the virus. Though Afghanistan has relatively few confirmed cases of coronavirus, neighbouring Iran has been particularly hard-hit.

For further information regarding the Australian government's response to the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak, refer to the Australian Department of Health page here