Today marks a significant milestone in the history of the Australia Defence Force (ADF) with the conclusion of Operation CATALYST in Iraq, Defence Minister, Senator John Faulkner said.
Operation CATALYST was the ADF’s contribution to the stabilisation and rehabilitation of Iraq.
“Today officially concludes a six year mission. From 2003, approximately, 20,000 ADF personnel served in Iraq as part of Operation CATALYST with professionalism and dedication,” Senator Faulkner said.
“Our service men and women again proved the Australian Defence Force’s high reputation in complex and difficult operational environments and I thank them on behalf of the Australian Government.
“As the operation has now successfully concluded Defence will consider suitable opportunities for public recognition, which may include parades in appropriate locations,” Senator Faulkner said.
“The success of Operation CATALYST has been a tribute to the professionalism and dedication of all Australian Defence Organisation personnel over the last six years,” the Chief of the Defence Force, Air Chief Marshal Angus Houston said.
“Australian personnel from each of the three services have conducted security, stabilisation and training operations during their deployment in Iraq.”
“I congratulate each and every one of our people who have been involved with our mission in Iraq and thank them for their hard work and dedication,” Air Chief Marshal Angus Houston said.
The completion of Operation CATALYST today accords with the date agreed with the Government of Iraq in December 2008 and reflects Iraq’s improved levels of security and stability and the steady normalisation of our bilateral relationship.
The ADF maintains a small presence in Iraq comprising a detachment providing security to the Australian Embassy in Baghdad (Operation KRUGER) and two members directly supporting the United Nations mission in Iraq (Operation RIVERBANK).
In accordance with the CDF’s Directive, troops returning from operation CATALYST at the end of their deployment have been welcomed home by a senior member of the ADF. Major units have generally conducted Welcome Home activities including parades in local communities as part of their recognition of service at the close of their tour of duty.
Operation CATALYST force elements included; Battle Groups in Al Muthanna province and Dhi Qar province; the Royal Australian Navy led Iraqi Coastal Defence Force Training Team; Royal Australian Navy Major Fleet Units and embarked flights; the Australian Army Training Team – Iraq; personnel embedded in various coalition headquarters; combined logistics and communication elements; medical elements; Task Force 158 Fleet Battle Staff in the North Arabian Gulf; provision of personnel to the Coalition Air Operations Command; a RAAF P3-C Orion detachment; a RAAF C-130 Hercules detachment; a combat support element providing air traffic control; Defence civilian advisers in the Iraqi Ministry of Defence; and a Joint Task Force headquarters.
Under Operation CATALYST, Australian personnel were responsible for training approximately 36,000 members of the Iraqi Army, Navy and Marines, including the conduct of specialist training in logistics support, counter-insurgency operations and maritime interception and interdiction operations in protecting Iraq’s vital offshore resources so critical to its economic future.
Australian forces also had the honour of being involved in the first transfer of an Iraqi province, Al-Muthanna, to the provincial security control of Iraqi forces.