It’s been 16 years now since Australian forces joined US and allied militaries in invading Iraq.
Since 2003, Australia has committed troops in an on again, off again basis. Mostly on again.
Now, according to AAP, a ninth rotation of Australian military trainers to Iraq is set to happen in June. It is rumoured that this could be the last commitment by Australia before the military is withdrawn from Iraq.
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Task Group Taji
In May 2015, Task Group Taji began, with a two-year timeframe. The purpose was to deliver training to Iraqi Security Forces that were based at Taji military complex, Northwest of Baghdad.
The group consist of a combination of Australian and New Zealanders. AAP reports that 300 ADF and 110 NZ Defence Force personnel were a part of the task group.
On Friday, AAP was told by a Defence spokeswoman that arrangements were in progress for the June rotation, which would be similar in size and responsibilities to past rotations.
As the speculation continues to grow that this could be Australia’s final rotation, the spokeswoman stated:
‘Future changes to the Australian Defence Force’s role in Iraq will be decided by the Australian government in close consultation with Iraq and coalition partners’.
Training responsibility increasingly growing
Task Group Taji’s eighth rotation took command of the mission on 1 December 2018, and are expected to return in June of this year.
Task Group Taji-8 have increasingly handed over responsibility to deliver training to Iraqi instructors at the Baghdad Fighting School.
‘Task Group Taji-9 will continue to adapt the training and capacity building support provided to Iraqi Security Forces, with an increased focus on training and mentoring of Iraqi military trainers,’ the Defence spokeswoman said.
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