Following the Government’s decision to prepare to contribute to international led efforts to disrupt and degrade ISIL, the Australian Defence Force will now deploy approximately 600 ADF personnel to the Middle East.

The Australian contingent will move to the United Arab Emirates where they will prepare to respond to future Government decisions regarding Iraq.

This deployment will include up to eight F/A-18F Super Hornet aircraft which will be available to assist in Iraq.

In addition, we plan to deploy E-7A Wedgetail Early Warning and Control aircraft, KC-30A air-to-air refuelling aircraft and the associated support personnel required to operate and sustain these aircraft.

Australian Special Forces will also be available to deploy in a supporting role to assist Iraqi forces while a number of additional ADF personnel will also deploy into Coalition headquarters to enable us to continue to work closely with our partners as we have done for recent humanitarian air drops and in transporting military stores into Iraq.

The decision to prepare Australian Defence Force personnel for deployment has not been taken lightly. This is a highly complex operating environment which continues to evolve and we now have a significant amount of detailed planning work to undertake as we prepare for this deployment. That will include careful mission planning, force preparation, intelligence gathering, and force protection measures.

I know the added pressure that a decision like this places on our Defence families. They too are in my thoughts as we prepare for this deployment. I know that the units will ensure you are well supported while your loved ones are away.

Disrupting and degrading ISIL will take a comprehensive and sustained effort from the international community. If we do nothing, we risk allowing the shocking acts of ISIL to further destabilise the Middle East region and to spread beyond the Middle East region where it will pose a greater threat to Australians.