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Australia announces 6 extra personnel to support strikes against Houthi rebels

RED SEA (3 February 2024) The aircraft carrier USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN 69) conducts flight operations in response to increased Iranian-backed Houthi malign behavior in the Red Sea, 3 February 2024. The Dwight D. Eisenhower Carrier Strike Group is deployed to the US 5th Fleet area of operations to support maritime security and stability in the Middle East region. Photo: US Navy/Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Jorge LeBaron

The Australian federal government has announced another six people will be deployed to the Middle East in support of US and United Kingdom operations in the Red Sea.

The Australian federal government has announced another six people will be deployed to the Middle East in support of US and United Kingdom operations in the Red Sea.

The extra contribution of Australian Defence Force personnel is expected to support US and UK efforts to prevent and counterstrike Houthi rebel attacks in Yemen.

Personnel will be embedded staff within US operational headquarters, under the newly formed Operation Hydranth. The increased commitment is separate to Australia’s contribution of up to 16 ADF personnel deployed to support the Combined Maritime Forces (CMF) in Bahrain, under Operation Manitou.

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Since January 2024, Australia has provided support to coalition strikes aimed at protecting international shipping transiting the Red Sea. The US Department of Defense recently announced it is seeking the de-escalating of tensions and restoring of stability in the Red Sea, as US and UK military forces protect the free flow of commerce in the region.

Since 19 November last year, the Houthis have reportedly conducted at least 48 attacks against commercial shipping and naval vessels in and around the Red Sea through which 15 per cent of all global trade flows. The rebels have allegedly utilised anti-ship ballistic missiles, anti-ship cruise missiles, unmanned aerial systems on surface vessels, and a single helicopter-borne seizure.

The attacks have reportedly resulted in more than a dozen major shipping operators suspending transit of the Red Sea – driving up prices and causing delivery delays.

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Defence Richard Marles, speaking to an ABC Breakfast television interview on 29 February, said the additional six people are a commitment to supporting the US and UK strikes on Houthi targets in Yemen.

“We’ve got 16 people in the CMF headquarters in Bahrain, and we’ve had people in those headquarters for a long time, but we increased that number last year in response to the disruption of shipping in the Red Sea. But the specific strikes on Yemen is its own mission with its own headquarters, and it is to that headquarters that we’ve increased our contribution by six,” he said.

“We announced that we were participating in that headquarters earlier in the year. So, this is a mission that we’ve been a part of, along with a smaller number of countries relative to those that can participate in the Combined Maritime Force.

“It’s an important contribution. It’s certainly one which is welcomed by the US and the UK. And I think the thing to understand here is we make decisions, again based on where Australia’s national interest lies.

“We’re an island-trading nation which is deeply invested in the rules of the sea. The UN Convention on the Law of the Sea, freedom of navigation is really everything for us in terms of our national prosperity. That’s what’s being disrupted by the Houthis in the Red Sea. And it’s important that Australia is flying its flag, that it is participating in this effort to protect international shipping in the Red Sea.”

The US Department of Defense has confirmed that more than 20 countries have joined increased maritime patrols in the area to safeguard commercial shipping and the US military has conducted strikes on more than 230 targets in Houthi-controlled Yemen.

Targets include underground weapons storage facilities, missile storage facilities, unmanned aerial systems, air defence systems, radars and a helicopter.

Robert Dougherty

Robert Dougherty

Robert is a senior journalist who has previously worked for Seven West Media in Western Australia, as well as Fairfax Media and Australian Community Media in New South Wales. He has produced national headlines, photography and videography of emergency services, business, community, defence and government news across Australia. Robert graduated with a Bachelor of Arts, Majoring in Public Relations and Journalism at Curtin University, attended student exchange program with Fudan University and holds Tier 1 General Advice certification for Kaplan Professional. Reach out via email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or via LinkedIn.
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