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Year in Review

Review by the Secretary and the Chief of the Defence Force

Current Operations

The number of ADF personnel deployed overseas peaked in July 2003 at around 3,600. Over the past year, that number has steadily declined with the reduction of personnel in both East Timor and the Solomon Islands. As at 30 June 2004, some 1,100 ADF personnel remained on overseas deployments.

Approximately 845 of these were deployed under Operation Catalyst to assist with the rebuilding of Iraq. They protected Australian officials in Iraq, primarily our diplomats, trained the new Iraqi armed forces, and provided our personnel in the Middle East Area of Operations with the logistics and communications support that they needed. They also ran a national headquarters in Baghdad which continues to control both Operation Catalyst and Operation Slipper (our contribution to the war against terrorism).

In 2003-04, our Navy personnel conducted over 1,000 successful challenges and 400 compliant boardings in the Persian Gulf to protect Iraqi oil supplies and counter smuggling and other illegal operations.

The Air Force flew some 2,000 sorties, provided aeromedical evacuation to nearly 1,000 patients in Iraq, and carried 14,000 passengers and over 12 million pounds of cargo. Two of our AP-3C Orion maritime patrol aircraft and 160 personnel flew over 400 sorties, conducting intelligence, reconnaissance and surveillance missions in the Persian Gulf, the Gulf of Oman and over Iraq. An Air Force air traffic control element served at Baghdad International Airport until 31 July 2004. The detachment processed over 175,000 aircraft movements and trained Iraqi air traffic controllers, who have now taken over operations at Baghdad airport.

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A force protection group of 120 personnel and 12 Australian Light Armoured Vehicles protected Australian Embassy and other government officials and ADF elements in Iraq.

ADF training teams contributed to the rehabilitation of Iraq by training the Iraqi 4th and 8th Brigades at Al Kasik and assisting the new Iraqi Coastal Defence Force to develop its patrol boat operations. Around 40 ADF personnel were embedded in the Multi National Force - Iraq to support the transitional and rehabilitation efforts in Iraq and an ADF member served as the Military Adviser to the United Nations Special Representative of the Secretary General.

The ADF's Operation Slipper contributed to the war against terrorism by providing the Operation Catalyst AP-3C detachment, a major fleet unit assigned to Maritime Interception Force operations in the northern Persian Gulf, and a de-mining specialist attached to the United States' Headquarters in Afghanistan.

The Australian-led, multinational operation has been under way in the Solomon Islands since July last year. At its peak in August 2003, over 1,700 ADF personnel were deployed in support of police efforts to restore law and order. Around 100 remained at 30 June 2004 providing support to the police and able to respond to any incident requiring military action.

Under Operation Spire, the ADF provided approximately 100 personnel to the United Nations' (UN) mission in East Timor, undertaking a range of roles to support the UN, mainly performing specialist logistics and engineering and military liaison tasks.

The ADF also continued to conduct operations to protect Australia's borders. The Navy's patrol boats, the Air Force's P3-Cs and the Army's Regional Force Surveillance Units all contributed to Operation Cranberry in northern Australia in support of Coastwatch's maritime surveillance program to detect illegal activity such as smuggling and illegal fishing. Our naval and air forces also operated under Operation Relex II, a major program to detect, warn and intercept vessels carrying unauthorised arrivals.

During 2003-04, the ADF responded to three major humanitarian crises. In response to the earthquake that devastated the city of Bam in Iran in December 2003, an Air Force C-130 aircraft transported in excess of 23,000 pounds of emergency stores. In January this year, an ADF health team deployed to the Pacific Island of Niue in response to tropical cyclone Heta which destroyed most of the country's infrastructure. The ADF health care facility became the only hospital on the island and treated over 300 patients. A few weeks later, two Air Force Hercules C-130 aircraft transported urgently needed emergency stores to Port Vila in Vanuatu following the devastation caused by tropical cyclone Ivy.

In addition to meeting these operational demands, ADF personnel continued to support UN missions in Ethiopia and Eritrea, in the Sinai, and along the Israel, Jordan, Syria, Lebanon and Egypt border and serve as unarmed military observers at headquarters in Jerusalem, the Golan Heights, Southern Lebanon and Gaza.

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