Chapter Four - Outcome Performance > Outcome One: Command of Operations > Special Feature: Al Muthanna Task Group
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Operation Catalyst - Army Capabilities | Special Feature

Al Muthanna
Task Group

On 22 February 2005, the Prime Minister, the Hon John Howard MP, announced that an Australian Army task group would deploy to Al Muthanna province in Southern Iraq. The Al Muthanna Task Group's (AMTG) mission was to provide a stable and secure environment for the Japanese Reconstruction and Support Group as they undertook essential humanitarian, engineering and rebuilding tasks and to assist in the training, through the Australian Army Training Team Iraq, of local Iraqi Army units so that they are able to take over the internal and external defence of their country.

Adjutant to the Al Muthanna Task Group, Captain Angus Hindmarsh shakes the hand of a local while the Commanding Officer, Lieutenant Colonel Roger Noble, shares a drink during a visit to the As Samawah souk.
Adjutant to the Al Muthanna Task Group, Captain Angus Hindmarsh shakes the hand of a local while the Commanding Officer, Lieutenant Colonel Roger Noble, shares a drink during a visit to the As Samawah souk.

The AMTG is made up of around 450 personnel and consists of a headquarters, a cavalry squadron, an infantry company, a training team and 40 Australian Light Armoured Vehicles. The AMTG also took the Bushmaster vehicle on its first operational deployment and its performance in Iraq has been outstanding. Personnel were drawn primarily from the Darwin based 1st Brigade with additional personnel coming from other Army units across Australia. The task group joined 920 ADF colleagues already deployed in the Middle East, as part of Operation Catalyst.

Once the Task Group was established at their home base - Camp Smitty - they immediately set about getting to know the locals and establishing an Australian presence in the province. The distinctive Emu plumes on the Light Horse's slouch hat became a familiar sight on the streets of As Samawah. The warm response from the locals was a great start to the deployment.

Australian soldiers of the Al Muthanna Task Group stop for orders before a patrol near the town of As Samawah, Southern Iraq.
Australian soldiers of the Al Muthanna Task Group stop for orders before a patrol near the town of As Samawah, Southern Iraq.

Members of the task group deployed with confidence knowing that their equipment, leadership and training was amongst the best provided to any troops on operations around the world. The deployment was the result of over two months of hard work by not only the Army, but the entire Defence community and Defence industry. Within the Army, Land Command, Training Command and Special Operations Command all provided professional and dedicated support to the task group. Within Defence, organisations such as the Defence Material Organisation, Defence Science and Technology Organisation, Chief Finance Officer Group, Strategic Operations Division, Capability Development Group and Joint Logistics Command all contributed their considerable resources to deploying and supporting the AMTG. Defence industry worked tirelessly, often around the clock, alongside Defence personnel and their efforts made a significant contribution to the preparation of the AMTG.

The deployment of the AMTG marks another chapter in the long and proud history of the Australian Army. Whilst the equipment may be different from that which was carried by Diggers as they went ashore at Gallipoli 90 years ago - the ANZAC spirit and determination remains the same. Their efforts have already won them many friends in Al Muthanna and their compassion, professionalism and courage have earned them the respect of coalition allies. As the Army moves ahead the combined arms task specific nature of the AMTG may just be the shape of things to come.

The first Australian Light Armoured Vehicle of the Al Muthanna Task Group arrives in the Middle East Area of Operations.
The first Australian Light Armoured Vehicle of the Al Muthanna Task Group arrives in the Middle East Area of Operations.

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