The Chief of Joint Operations, Vice Admiral David Johnston, has congratulated the Iraqi Forces on retaking key territory in Ramadi and highlighted the Australian Defence Force’s contribution to the operation.
After months of fighting through the complex urban environment, the Counter Terrorism Service 1st Iraqi Special Operations Force Brigade (1st ISOF) raised the Iraq flag over the Government buildings this week, symbolising the liberation of Ramadi on 28 December 2015.
The success of the CTS is just one aspect of the efforts of Australian Defence Force personnel in Iraq which encompasses the Advise and Assist, Building Partner Capacity, Air Task Group and embedded personnel in coalition headquarters.
Vice Admiral Johnston said the 1st ISOF Brigade supported remotely by Special Operation Task Group in Iraq (SOTG-I) in an advise and assist capacity, including remote-based joint terminal attack control, have successfully fought their way to the government buildings in the heavily defended Daesh-held centre of Ramadi.
SOTG-I advisors enabled more than 150 airstrikes in support of 1st ISOF Brigade’s offensive, resulting in the destruction of some 50 Daesh fighting positions, 16 heavy machine guns and numerous vehicle-borne improvised explosive devices.
“It is deeply satisfying to see how the Australian Special Operations Task Group in Iraq have supported 1st ISOF Brigade through the Advise and Assist mission,” Vice Admiral Johnston said.
VADM Johnston said SOTG-I has been providing training assistance to 1st ISOF Brigade for over a year including advanced skill sets needed in the Special Operations environment, such as tactics, medical aid and counter improvised explosive device skills.
Vice Admiral Johnston said other Australian Task Groups in the Middle East have also contributed to the Iraqi operational successes.
“The F/A-18A Hornets from the Air Task Group were vital in striking Daesh fighting positions that were hampering the Iraqi Counter Terrorism Services to advance through Ramadi,” he said.
“Air Task Group Hornets conducted two missions on 22 and 29 December where five and two munitions were released respectively.
“As a direct result of at least one attack, the Daesh fighters were silenced and the Iraqi Counter Terrorism Services were able to continue with their clearance of central Ramadi.”
Overall, the Air Task Group has completed 99 missions and released 96 munitions since July for operations in Ramadi.
VADM Johnston said the combined Australian-New Zealand Building Partner Capacity training mission, named Task Group Taji, also contributed to the Ramadi operation.
“Soldiers from Iraq’s 76th Brigade, previously trained by Task Group Taji, have been occupying defensive positions around Ramadi since July,” he said.
“During this major operation, 76 Brigade coordinated indirect fires to suppress enemy positions, cleared obstacles laced with IEDs, seized objectives and maintained momentum despite casualties.
“It has taken time, but the continual efforts of our troops and our coalition partners are paying off, and the Iraqi Government and security forces are deeply appreciative of our help.”
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