Rear Admiral Trevor Jones, AO, CSC RAN handed over command of Joint Task Force 633 (JTF 633) in the Middle East to Air Vice Marshal Tim Innes CSC on 25 January 2016.
A Transfer of Authority ceremony held at Camp Baird, Australia’s main operating base in the Middle East, marked the occasion.
The two-star command position oversees Australian Defence capabilities that include military training forces, strike aircraft and a patrolling warship.
Rear Admiral Jones was the first Navy officer to hold the two-star position, an opportunity he described as both challenging and humbling but extremely rewarding.
“The Defence capabilities deployed to the Middle East and Afghanistan are very complex and diverse,” Rear Admiral Jones said.
“We have an Air Task Group conducting operations in Iraq and Syria, Australian soldiers working alongside New Zealand soldiers to train Iraqi soldiers, Special Operations soldiers advising and assisting Iraqi Special Forces; soldiers training and advising Afghan security forces, and a range of other personnel supporting Coalition headquarters across the region.”
“We also have a warship intercepting drug and contraband traffickers at sea to disrupt funding for terrorists.”
“This diversity places great demands on all the men and women of the Task Force and its Task Groups, and I feel both humbled and honoured to have led men and women of the highest calibre during what has been a turbulent period for the Middle East.”
Incoming commander Air Vice Marshal Tim Innes said he is privileged to assume command.
“The Australians in the Middle East region are a respected, trusted and valued ally for many nations,” Air Vice Marshal Innes said.
“Our Task Force is in good shape, and for that I must thank Rear Admiral Jones.”
Air Vice Marshal Innes said the commencement of his command comes at a time when there is a change in momentum for the region.
“We have witnessed the retaking of Ramadi and the reaffirmation of international support for Afghanistan,” he said.
“The next 12 months of command will be challenging, but as we have seen in Iraq we are making progress.”
“With the support of people back in Australia we will continue our work, confident that we are working towards a better future for the people of the region.”
Serving under Operation Accordion, JTF 633 provides the command and support functions for Defence personnel serving on operations in Iraq, Afghanistan and at sea on maritime security operations in the Gulf and northern Indian Ocean.
Rear Admiral Jones returns to Australia having completed his 14-month deployment and will shortly retire from the ADF after a 38-year career.