Australian Defence Force (ADF) and coalition operations continue in the Middle East despite the COVID-19 pandemic’s ramifications because of measured planning.

Major Edward Heslop, embedded with the US-led Headquarters Combined Joint Task Force – Operation Inherent Resolve (CJTF-OIR) led that planning effort.

“I was originally deployed as the J75 future operations chief for training, posted to Task Force Iraq in Baghdad,” Major Heslop said.

“I was pushed south to Headquarters CJTF-OIR at Camp Arifjan, Kuwait, to be a future operations planner to prepare a policy framework so the task force could continue operations in the COVID-19 environment.” 

Central to Major Heslop’s plan was the reorientation of responses from reactionary orders to deliberate risk management.

“The problem with reactionary orders is they make it hard to assess whether or not measures being put in place are effective, and can end up being inadvertently haphazard,” he said.

ADF personnel in the Middle East region have gained an enormous amount from working with our partners.

Major Heslop said he had support from key staff who have taken the policy and processes on board.

“It required significant consultation across the headquarters and subordinate forces to ensure it was accurate and accessible,” Major Heslop said. 

Commander Joint Task Force 633 Major General Susan Coyle said she was proud of ADF and coalition force’s flexibility.

“We are proud to work alongside our coalition partners who have contributed to this effort. ADF personnel in the Middle East region have gained an enormous amount from working with our partners,” Major General Coyle said.

“We remain focused on supporting operations, ensuring that COVID-19 does not get its own line of operation.

“Seeing how other nations approach and resolve simple and complex issues is invaluable and I praise the efforts of our ADF members as we support one another through COVID-19.”