Chief of Army visits Middle East and North Africa
28 February 2019
Australian and Fijian soldiers of the Multinational Force and Observers (MFO) paraded in front of Australia’s Army Chief in a drill square in Egypt in February.
Despite their distinctive terracotta-coloured headgear, the Australian MFO contingent is a little-known part of the ADF’s operations, which were being visited by the Chief of Army, Lieutenant General Rick Burr, and the new Commander of Joint Task Force (JTF) 633, Air Vice Marshal Joe Iervasi.
Australians have been part of the MFO – implemented as a result of the Camp David Agreement, which formally ended years of conflict between Israel and Egypt – since its early days in 1982. The Force is commanded by Australian Major General Simon Stuart and the small contingent of about 30 Australians works closely with the Fijian battalion based at Sharm-el Sheikh in Sinai.
The multinational flavour was evident during Lieutenant General Burr’s six-day visit to the Middle East and North Africa region. His itinerary included the Australian contribution to the US-led coalition operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, and a visit to Operation Accordion troops at the main logistics base for the area.
Praising the soldiers, sailors and airmen and women of JTF 633 and the MFO, Lieutenant General Burr reminded them to focus on their purpose while deployed on the varied training and advisory missions on Operations Okra, Highroad, Accordion and Mazurka.
“This isn’t about us, this is all about the people we are here to help,” Lieutenant General Burr said.
“Whether it is in Afghanistan, in Iraq, in the MFO, or as part of the enablers in a supporting role, we are all about helping people get to a better place.”
He told the Anzac contingent at Taji in Iraq that their work over the eight rotations was bearing fruit, as the Iraqi instructors take the lead at the Baghdad Fighting School.
“I know there is uncertainty about the future of Task Group Taji, but we have a job to do and we’re going to keep doing it until we are told to stop,” he said.
While in Iraq, Lieutenant General Burr met with Commander of Operation Inherent Resolve Lieutenant General Paul LaCamera, of the United States Army, the Australian troops deployed to Task Group Taji-8 and the Special Operations Task Group 632.
During his visit to Afghanistan, Lieutenant General Burr met with the Commander of the NATO-led Resolute Support Mission, General Austin Scott Miller, of the United States Army, and Chief Mentor at the Afghan National Army Officer Academy, Brigadier Adam Griffiths, of the British Army.