The combined Australian-New Zealand Task Group’s first regular Iraqi Army trainees have graduated.
More than 700 soldiers from the 16th Division’s 76th Iraqi Army Brigade have spent the past eight weeks in training at the Taji Military Complex, northwest of Baghdad.
Taji is one of four US-led Building Partner Capacity (BPC) mission sites across Iraq.
The 76th Brigade graduation marks a significant milestone for the BPC mission with 10,000 Iraqi Security Forces personnel trained by Coalition forces across the BPC sites.
76th Iraqi Army Brigade Commander Brigadier General Ali Khalid Abdullah Ali said he and his men felt ready to reclaim their country and take the fight to Daesh.
“I want to thank the Australian and New Zealand forces for all that they have done to train my soldiers.
“The graduation for this many soldiers who have been armed with the newest weapons represents a huge force to fight against Daesh,” Brigadier General Ali said.
“We are soldiers and we receive our orders from our Commander. Wherever they are going to send us we are ready for Daesh.”
Task Group Taji Commander Colonel Matt Galton said the graduation represented an important phase in the Brigade’s preparations for the counter-offensive to take back Iraqi territory, and ultimately defeat Daesh.
The Brigade’s training focused on the planning and conduct of operations, weapon handling, basic tactical maneuver, integration of intelligence, leadership and ethical behavior in war.
“The BPC training mission is a crucial element to enable the Iraqi Security Forces to reclaim and hold their territory from Daesh,” Colonel Galton said.
Colonel Galton said the Australian and New Zealand trainers had also developed strong bonds with their Iraqi counterparts.
Senior Iraqi Defence personnel, including the Iraqi Military Training Commander, Major General Sabeeh Bahlol Aatee and Commander of the 16th Division, Brigadier Sabah Fadil Mutar, attended the graduation ceremony.
Australia and New Zealand were represented by the Australian Ambassador to Iraq, Ms Lyndall Sachs, the New Zealand Defence Force Senior National Officer – Iraq, COL W and the Acting Commander of Headquarters Joint Task Force 633, Brigadier Nagy Sorial.
Task Group Taji will now shift its focus to the 1st Battalion of the 71st Iraqi Army Brigade, which commenced training on 24 June 2015.
In addition to the ADF’s BPC commitment, Australia’s Special Operations Task Group continues its Advise and Assist mission to build the capacity of the Iraqi Counter-Terrorism Service, while the Air Task Group continues to plan and conduct regular airstrikes as part of the US-led international coalition air campaign against Daesh targets in support of Iraqi Security Forces operations on the ground.
Imagery will be available on the following link: http://images.defence.gov.au/S20151816
Vision will be fed to the Press Gallery at Parliament House at midday today.
Task Group Taji Commander Colonel Matt Galton is available for phone interviews on 30 June 2015 from 2pm – 3pm only. Please contact Defence Media Operations.
For an update on the Operation Okra Air Task Group, please see media release available at: http://news.defence.gov.au/2015/06/30/australian-air-task-group-achieves-major-milestones/
Defence Media Operations (02) 6127 1999