Governor-General Visits Troops In Iraq, Afghanistan And Persian Gulf

The Governor-General, Michael Jeffery, has spent the Christmas period visiting Australian troops in the Middle East.

He joined troops of the Al Muthanna Task Group for Christmas lunch in southern Iraq, as well as visiting the Special Forces Task Group in Afghanistan, the AP-3 Orion crews, and HMAS Parramatta in the northern Persian Gulf.

The Australian forces are part of Operation Catalyst, described by the Department of Defence as “Australia’s contribution to the safety, reconstruction and rebuilding of Iraq”.

Governor-General Michael Jefferey with Australian troops in southern Iraq

This is the text of a media statement from the Governor-General, Michael Jeffery.

GOVERNOR-GENERAL TOURS AUSTRALIAN DEFENCE FORCE MIDDLE EAST OPERATIONS – IRAQ, AFGHANISTAN, PERSIAN GULF AND REGIONAL HEADQUARTERS

In my role both as Governor-General and Commander-in-Chief of the Australian Defence Force (ADF), I have spent the past four days visiting our men and women deployed in the Middle East area of operations. Their work and achievements are impressive.

Their morale is high and I conveyed to them the enormous respect they have earned – respect expressed to me throughout Australia by people from all walks of life, and by Heads of State and leaders from other countries.

Australia’s contribution to Coalition efforts across the region is invaluable and greatly appreciated. The ADF personnel on the ground, in the air and at sea, serve with great professional skill and compassion.

Their work is hard in often inhospitable and dangerous conditions. Indeed they are dedicated ambassadors for Australia and I come away inspired and proud. They are the equal of anything I have seen in over fifty years of service with the ADF.

I was privileged to join the troops of the Al Muthanna Task Group for Christmas lunch in southern Iraq where I also had the opportunity to see the exceptional work they are doing.

With the assistance of our highly trained Royal Australian Air Force C-130 crews, I have also visited the Special Forces Task Group in Afghanistan, the AP-3 Orion crews, the men and women serving aboard HMAS Parramatta in the northern Persian Gulf and finally, the men and women providing the key logistic support to our deployed forces.

All personnel I met are under superb command, well trained and well equipped for their vital and varied tasks.

During this Christmas – New Year period I encourage all Australians to think of our deployed servicemen and women serving overseas and to join me in wishing them every success and a safe return at the end of their respective deployments.

On arrival in the region I made State visits to both Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, meeting the leaders and senior government representatives of these important Muslim nations to underline at the highest level the importance Australia attaches to our bilateral relationships.

I particularly welcome the increased people-to-people links between Australia, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates which can only strengthen the mutual understanding of our respective cultures.

I also look forward to the development of further linkages in areas such as trade, education, the increasing exchange of technical expertise and tourism, as well as the important strategic security relationship.

As I conclude my visit to the Middle East, I wish all Australians, at home and abroad, a safe and happy Christmas and New Year.

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