On New Year’s Eve, smoke wafted from a tobacco pipe at the Taji Military Complex north of Baghdad to mark another year gone and a new one’s beginning.
Major Anthony Bartlett was holding court in front of a group of captains discussing the correct application of tobacco to a pipe.
Major Bartlett is Task Group Taji 10’s Quarter Master on his fourth deployment to Iraq, having previously deployed three times with the British Army.
“In 1991 I was a Corporal, a Section Commander, in Her Majesty’s British armed forces in charge of a warrior fighting vehicle,” Major Bartlett said.
“We were protecting the Kurds and providing security after the invasion of Kuwait by Saddam Hussein’s regime.”
In 2006 and again in 2008, Major Bartlett returned with the British Army as part of Operation Telic.
He was the Regimental Quartermaster Sergeant for the 2nd Battalion, The Royal Anglian Regiment (The Poachers) during Op Telic 6, and the Battalion’s Regimental Sergeant Major on Op Telic 8.
Fast forward to 2020 and Task Group Taji 10 is working to enhance partner force capacity by mentoring Iraqi Security Forces in their fight against the terrorist group Daesh.
With his extensive experience Major Bartlett is a perfect fit for the mission and admires the historical land of Iraq.
“This is an old land, almost biblical in some regard,” he said.
“Iraq has been fought over for millennia because of its fertile landscape and was known to be the breadbasket of ancient Mesopotamia.
“The landscape is quite haunting and beautiful.”
Taji 10 forms part of Operation Okra, which is the Australian commitment to the US-led Operation Inherent Resolve, the military intervention against Daesh.
“We have developed a great relationship here and the Iraqi’s are our partners,” Major Bartlett said.