Australian operations in Iraq continue to press ISIL
19 December 2014
Since air operations commenced against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), the militants operating in Iraq have been targeted by more than 500 coalition air strike missions including more than 180 sorties by Royal Australian Air Force F/A-18F Super Hornets.
Chief of Joint Operations Vice Admiral David Johnston said the Australian Air Task Group (ATG) remained a key contributor to coalition air operations in support of Iraqi Security Forces (ISF) and Kurdish Peshmerga operations across northern and western Iraq including the cities of Bayji, Mosul, Kirkuk, Ramadi and Sinjar.
“The ATG continues to target ISIL vehicles, logistics nodes, buildings and check-points, and fighting positions as well as providing close air support for ISF and Peshmerga forces,” he said.
VADM Johnston said in one air strike mission against an ISIL stronghold that overlooked the northern approaches of Mosul, 14 coalition aircraft from seven countries, including Australia, deployed 34 guided munitions that destroyed approximately 12 bunkers and nine heavy machine guns.
“Australia continues to be an active contributor to coalition efforts that are helping the Iraqi Government disrupt and degrade ISIL militants. While operations against ISIL in Iraq will continue for some time, ISIL is under immense pressure and the militants’ momentum has been checked since the air campaign commenced,” he said.
Since Australia began its operations against ISIL in October, 113 munitions have been deployed by the ATG’s Super Hornets against 44 targets resulting in the destruction of 36 targets and damage to a further six.
VADM Johnston said the valuable support provided by the KC-30A Multi-Role Tanker Transport and E-7A Wedgetail had also continued.
In support of ground operations, Australian Special Forces have also been active since they arrived in Iraq about a month ago. Working with their Iraqi Special Operations counterparts, the Special Operations Task Group has begun training 40 ISF soldiers in counter-terrorist tactics. The SOTG has also helped to coordinate 17 kinetic air-strike and close air support operations during more than 40 Advise and Assist tasks and dealt with more than 70 improvised explosive devices.
“This period of intense operations has also been marked by the transition of command for Joint Task Force 633. After an historic 15-month deployment, Major General Craig Orme has handed over responsibilities for managing maritime security, logistics support and operations in Iraq to Rear-Admiral Trevor Jones,” VADM Johnston said.
“MAJGEN Orme has managed the tremendous challenges of supporting operations against ISIL while also reforming our command and control arrangements in the Middle East Region. He has made a lasting contribution and provided outstanding support to deployed women and men. His successor, RADM Trevor Jones returns to the Middle East having previously been the Deputy Commander of the Joint Task Force in 2009.”
In other key achievements, the RAAF’s five year mission involving the Heron Remotely Piloted Aircraft ended on 11 December, having completed 27,100 air hours in support of Operation SLIPPER, while HMAS Toowoomba started her return home on 13 December following a four?month deployment that involved seizing 6.3 tonnes of narcotics. HMAS Success has commenced operations in the Middle East area having last deployed to the region in 1990 as part of a three ship contribution to a Maritime Interception Force.
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