Taji soldiers stand tall
3 November 2015
Australian soldiers from Task Group Taji on Operation Okra stood proud during a recent parade where they were recognised for their service at the Taji Military Complex in Iraq.
The parade was marked by a prayer by the Task Group Chaplain and attended by staff from Headquarters Joint Task Force 633 and Coalition partners including senior United States personnel located at Taji, north of Baghdad.
Australian soldiers were presented their Operational Service Medal – Greater Middle East Operation.
Also attending the parade was Deputy Commander Headquarters Joint Task Force 633, Brigadier Nagy Sorial who addressed the 300 Australians and 100 New Zealanders.
"I encourage you to share this medal with your family," he said.
"It will stay in your family for years to come and is a symbol of your service and the sacrifices you and your loved ones have made."
Brigadier Sorial told the assembled troops their work in establishing Task Group Taji's presence in Iraq has been deeply appreciated.
"It is rare to have the opportunity to do things first," he said.
"I have been fortunate enough to watch the combined Task Group establish itself, conduct training and develop over the last six months.
"You have had to come together quickly and on arrival work through all the challenges.
"As a Task Group and individuals you have grown and you should be proud of your efforts, you have done a magnificent job."
Although the first rotation of Task Group Taji is nearing the end of their deployment, their workload is high and the Iraqi Army continues to request the Task Force's assistance.
Colonel Matt Galton the commander of Task Group Taji, said the Task Force would be busy right up to the handover with the next rotation of Australian and New Zealand troops.
"We are training over 1000 Iraqi Army soldiers and are expected to receive more before our replacements arrive," he said.
"It is a busy period and we will be working until the end but it is important to pause and acknowledge the contribution of everyone who has ensured that training has been a success."
The Australian Operational Service Medal – Greater Middle East Operation medal is also awarded for service on Operations Manitou, Accordion and Highroad.
Task Group Taji's Building Partner Capacity contribution is part of Australia’s broader Defence contribution to Iraq, named Operation Okra, which includes a Special Operations Task Group and an Air Task Group.
Operation OKRA falls within the Coalition contribution to Operation Inherent Resolve which consists of over 60 nations.