Commander Joint Task Force 633 Air Vice-Marshal Joe Iervasi has officially handed over command of Australian Defence Force operations in the Middle East region.

The command was passed to Rear Admiral Mark Hill at a transfer of authority ceremony on June 28 at Australia’s main operating base in the region.

Air Vice-Marshal Iervasi said he had observed an evolution in Australian operations across the Middle East.

“Both the train, advise, assist mission in Afghanistan and the build partner capacity operation in Iraq are achieving milestones,” Air Vice-Marshal Iervasi said.

“We have seen, in both Afghanistan and Iraq, their military no longer just receiving training but taking the lead in training themselves.”

Air Vice-Marshal Iervasi said the rest of the world had witnessed what Australia brought to the region. 

“Australia contributes here in meaningful ways and, more importantly, we come here without vested interests and with the genuine intent of making the situation better,” he said.

The outgoing commander took some time out to praise the women and men who serve in the Middle East and said they had a real sense of their place in history. 

“Australian Defence Force people are smart and worldly in terms of their understanding of what is going on, and they are more connected as well,” he said.

Air Vice-Marshal Iervasi said Australia would always have an element of interest in the Middle East region, a connection that goes back more than a century. 

“We have always been here; our national interests for a global rules-based order suggests that it is in our interest to be here in the Middle East,” he said.

“It is important that we have trade stability in the Gulf and the Red Sea.”

Air Vice-Marshal Iervasi begins his new role as Air Commander Australia on July 12.