Australian Special Operations Task Group work in Iraq
12 February 2015
Australia’s Special Operations Task Group is strengthening the capabilities of the Iraqi Security Force counter-terrorism through its Advise and Assist mission in Iraq.
The Task Group is responsible for advising and assisting three battalions of the Iraqi Security Forces’ Special Tactics Unit, an elite force drawn from Iraq’s Counter Terrorism Service.
Chief of Joint Operations Vice Admiral David Johnston said the SOTG had assigned a 2nd Commando Regiment Military Working Dog handler, Sergeant H, to the STU K-9 Program Cell.
“The Iraqis are strengthening their working dog capability and for good reason. It’s a well-known fact Military Working Dogs are very effective at locating enemy IEDs (improvised explosive devices) outside-the-wire,” VADM Johnston said.
The Australian Special Forces contingent is providing training inside-the-wire for the Iraqi military working-dog training program.
Deputy Commander of the 1st Iraqi Special Operations Forces Brigade Brigadier General Hussein said Australia’s support was appreciated.
“The specialist capabilities we are learning, like the explosive detection dog capability, is unique to us. The K-9 capability is great for morale and when trained, the dogs will save soldiers’ and innocent civilian’s lives,” BRIG General Hussein said.
“Without Australian and American support, we would not have the capability to the level it is now at.”
Since December 2014, SOTG’s Sergeant H has increased the STU K-9 Program capability several fold and a designated ‘Kennel Master’ now oversees the duties of all the Iraqi dog-handlers.
“The cell has also begun a puppy breeding program to ensure the development of the capability and to best guarantee its future,” Sergeant H said.
The STU K-9 Program Cell now includes an enclosed exercise yard for ‘off-leash’ training, confined-space training structures and a swim training tank.
Operation OKRA is the ADF's contribution to the international effort to combat the Daesh terrorist threat in Iraq.
Australia's contribution is being closely coordinated with the Iraqi Government, Gulf nations and a broad coalition of international partners.
Activities undertaken by SOTG are sanctioned by the Government of Iraq.
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