Prime Minister Tony Abbott has announced that Australian combat aircraft will join the international coalition against ISIL in Iraq.
Abbott said up to eight RAAF F/A18 aircraft, an E-7A Wedgetail Airborne Early Warning and Control aircraft, and a KC-30A Multi-Role Tanker and Transport aircraft will be deployed to the United Arab Emirates.
The Australian Defence Force (ADF) will also prepare a Special Operations Task Group to act as military advisers to assist Iraq. ADF personnel will also be placed in the United States Headquarters for coordination, planning and logistics purposes.
Whilst around 600 Australian personnel will be sent to the Middle East, combat troops will not be deployed.
Abbott, speaking at a press conference in Darwin, said the government’s decision was in response “to a formal request from the Government of the United States”.
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Text of a media release from Prime Minister Tony Abbott.
Australian Defence Force Contribution To International Coalition Against ISIL
The Government is preparing to contribute to an international coalition to counter the ISIL terrorist threat.
The Australian Defence Force will prepare and deploy to the United Arab Emirates up to eight Royal Australian Air Force F/A18 combat aircraft; an E-7A Wedgetail Airborne Early Warning and Control aircraft; and a KC-30A Multi-Role Tanker and Transport aircraft.
In addition, the Australian Defence Force will prepare a Special Operations Task Group as military advisers that could assist Iraqi and other security forces that are taking the fight to the ISIL terrorists.
Australia will place Australian Defence Force personnel in the United States Headquarters to ensure close coordination with our alliance partner and to support planning and logistics.
We are not deploying combat troops but contributing to international efforts to prevent the humanitarian crisis from deepening.
The Government’s decision responds to a formal request from the Government of the United States to contribute specific Australian Defence Force capabilities to the international coalition.
In recent days, I have discussed the situation with President Barack Obama, with Iraq’s new Prime Minister Haider Al-Abadi and with Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zaiyed of the United Arab Emirates.
These leaders share the Government’s grave concern about the situation in Iraq and support Australian participation in an international coalition to disrupt and degrade ISIL’s ruthless advance.
The ISIL death cult threatens the people of Iraq, the region and the wider world.
The conflict has reached out to Australia, with at least 60 Australians fighting with ISIL and other terrorist groups and another 100 or so supporting these extremists.
This situation is as much a matter of domestic security as it is of international security.
It is right for Australia to do what it prudently and proportionately can to support international efforts to prevent the spread of ISIL, roll back its gains and alleviate suffering in Iraq.
Australia has already provided air-lift assistance to Iraq, including the movement of arms and munitions and two humanitarian aid drops to stranded people in Northern Iraq using a RAAF C-130J Hercules and C-17A Globemaster aircraft.
I am encouraged by the strong support President Obama’s strategy has received, in particular from Iraq and many neighbouring countries, and the wider international community.
On 24 September, I will attend the United Nations Security Council to further discuss the international effort to counter ISIL.