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More Defence news: 02 June - 08 June 2008

Exercise Pitch Black Takes Off | Military Police conduct road side vehicle checks in Timor-Leste | Defence White Paper for Community Consultation | Celebration of Women in Defence | Mate-against-Mate in Baghdad for State of Origin | Troops paint the town of Darlau yellow | Cessation of ADF operations in Southern Iraq

Exercise Pitch Black Takes Off

A Royal Thai Air Force Pilot prepares his F-16 for flight as a Royal Australian Air Force C-130J Hercules arrives at RAAF Base Darwin carrying supplies for Exercise Pitch Black 08.
6 June – International Air Force participants have taken to the skies above the Northern Territory for air combat training scenarios as part of Exercise Pitch Black. The Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) is hosting an array of international Air Force participants for Exercise Pitch Black which concludes on Friday, 27 June.

Pitch Black is a regular RAAF exercise held every two years in the Northern Territory.

Up to 3000 service men and women from Australia and countries including the United States, Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand and France support the exercise, with ground crews and aircrews operating some of the most sophisticated military systems employed in the world.

An additional 60 aircraft from the RAAF and participating Forces will deploy to RAAF Base Darwin and RAAF Base Tindal, near Katherine.  Fighter, strike, early warning, air-to-air refuelling and transport aircraft will combine with selected surface forces and systems to simulate and evaluate operational planning and tactics in war-like conditions.

Visitors are invited to meet aircraft and personnel involved in the Exercise at an Open day at RAAF Base Darwin on Saturday, 14 June between 10.00am and 2.00pm.

Significantly, this year’s Pitch Black includes forces from NATO and the Royal Malaysian Air Force. The Exercise makes use of the Joint and Combined Training Centre interweaving simulated assets into the live missions.  Pitch Black will also be the last major exercise for the Royal Australian Air Force Boeing 707 refuelling aircraft, with its impending retirement from service during 2008.

More: Media release | Imagery

Military Police conduct road side vehicle checks in Timor-Leste

International Stabilisation Force (ISF) Joint Provost Marshal (JPM) Major Ian Stewart talks with New Zealand Military Police Sergent Angel Ngapera at the temporary Traffic Control Point on the main road leading to Dili, Timor-Leste.
6 June – Australian and New Zealand Military Police from the International Stabilisation Force (ISF) work together to conduct regular Traffic Control Points on the roads in Timor-Leste.  While on operations, Military Police reinforce vehicle safety, and degree of weapon readiness, along with personal and vehicle documentation checks.

Operation ASTUTE is the Australian Government's response to a request from the Government of Timor-Leste to assist the Government and the United Nations to bring stability, security and confidence to the Timorese to allow them to resolve their differences democratically and peacefully.

There are approximately 1000 ADF personnel currently serving in Timor-Leste and who will remain there continuing to provide a robust response capability to support the Government of Timor-Leste and the United Nations Police force.

Police from Australia and 24 other nations throughout the world provide security in Dili. The ADF provides support to these police operations as required.

The New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF) is working alongside the ADF to assist with this mission.

More: Imagery

Defence White Paper for Community Consultation

The Minister for Defence, the Hon. Joel Fitzgibbon MP, today launched the Defence White Paper Community Consultation Program and released a public discussion paper ‘Key Questions for Defence in the 21st Century’ during an event at Parliament House.
6 June – Yesterday, the Minister for Defence, the Hon. Joel Fitzgibbon MP launched the Defence White Paper Community Consultation Program and released a public discussion paper ‘Key Questions for Defence in the 21st Century’, at Parliament House.

The Community Consultation Program aims to involve and build stronger community interest in the future of Defence, giving the Australian community a chance to have its say.

The public discussion paper will assist Defence to generate ideas and expand the public debate about Defence and security which is essential to the White Paper process. The paper will inform and encourage discussion among interested members of the general public as well as the wider Defence community, and will also encourage consideration of Defence business and more general Defence policy.

The public is invited to share their views during open meetings in major capital cities and key regional centres across the country.

There will also be separate opportunities for dialogue between the panel and State and Territory politicians, industry representatives and Defence analysts and commentators.

More: White Paper website | media release | audio grabs

Celebration of Women in Defence

04 June – Over the weekend a number of Celebrations of Women in Defence were held in Townsville.

Displays were put up at Gecko’s Family Centre in Lavarack Barracks in Townsville on Sunday, where past and current serving female Australian Defence Members travelled from all over Australia to attend. Hundreds of women turned up to see how women of today operate in today’s Defence Force, reminiscing and paying respect to women serving their country. After the formalities were over the women shared a light brunch together.

Earlier in the week, the Minister for Defence Science and Personnel, the Hon. Warren Snowdon announced that an external Reference Group on Women has been established to advise the Australian Defence Force (ADF) on the recruitment and retention of servicewomen.

The reference group, established by the Chief of Defence Force, Air Chief Marshal Angus Houston, AC, AFC, will consider the issues of Defence culture, attitude and behaviour, alongside an examination of the current range of family-friendly policies in the ADF which are not fully utilised.

Mate-against-Mate in Baghdad for State of Origin

02 June – Members of the Australian Defence Force serving in the Middle East are anxiously awaiting the second State of Origin rugby league match on Wednesday 11 June.

Rivalry has spilled over into Baghdad where Origin fever is igniting friendly but keen state parochialism among the normally tight-knit group that forms the ADF’s Security Detachment (SECDET) in the International Zone.

It’s not only mate against mate, state against state but also Army versus Air Force.  Although the soldiers and airmen have formed close bonds over the six-month deployment, all will be put aside next Wednesday as everyone barracks for their respective states.

“It’s going to be the Maroons all the way”, said Sergent Clayton Haack, a member of the Amberley-based No.2 Airfield Defence Squadron, as he runs through the SECDET compound after work wearing the Queensland jersey and matching maroon wig.

“Not a chance”, retorts Corporal Anthony Rann, from Lismore in Northern New South Wales and now based in Darwin with the Army’s 2nd Cavalry Regiment.  “Queensland hasn’t got a chance.”

The Officer Commanding SECDET Rotation 13, Major Ewen Hedges, said national sporting events are incredibly important for the morale of Defence Force members serving overseas.

More: Imagery

Troops paint the town of Darlau yellow

02 June – International Stabilisation Force troops in Timor-Leste helped paint a new local church yellow in Darlau, a town 800 metres above Dili.  The idea for the project came about following a conversation between Army Aviation Captain Fiona Macinate and two of her aunts, both Catholic nuns working on projects in the region.

Timor-Leste Aviation Group carried out a reconnaissance and raised money for paint and equipment for the project.  International Stabilisation Force Engineers also made pews for the new church.

More: Imagery

Cessation of ADF operations in Southern Iraq

02 June - Australian troops have lowered the flag on their highly successful commitment to the security of southern Iraq and the training of the new Iraqi Army.

The Overwatch Battle Group (OBG-W) and Australian Army Training Team (AATT-I) formally ceased operations at a ceremony in Camp Terendak, Talil today.

Minister for Defence, the Hon Joel Fitzgibbon MP, said the conclusion of the dual missions marked the completion of a significant phase in Australia’s military commitment to the rehabilitation of Iraq.

Mr Fitzgibbon said OBG(W) operations gave the fledgling Iraqi Army the space and time to train, grow and consolidate into a capable force that has proven itself time and again in recent months.

“Since commencing the training role, ADF personnel in southern Iraq have contributed to the individual and collective training of 33,000 Iraqi Army soldiers," Mr Fitzgibbon said.

“In addition, specialist training has been provided in logistics management, combat service support and importantly, effective counter-insurgency operations.

“While only a small element of the 3700 ADF personnel who served in security and training roles, the Australian contribution to the Iraqi Army’s Counter Insurgency Academy is one of the lasting legacies of our commitment.

“Our troops have been directly involved in the mentoring of 250 Iraqi Army soldiers who now have the skills and experience to incorporate vital counter-insurgency tactics, techniques and procedures into their parent unit’s activities.”

More: Read media release | Operation CATALYST | Australians farewell Al Muthanna | Transition of Authority ceremony | Diggers hand over Dhi Qar province | OBG(W) and Australian Army Training Team-Iraq journey home