Senator the Hon. Robert Hill,
Minister for Defence
Leader of the Government in the Senate
final forwaRD DEPLOYMENT OF ADF ELEMENTS
As foreshadowed by the Prime Minister on 10 January 2003, the Government has now decided to deploy the last of the Australian Defence Force elements that have been on standby for Operation Bastille.
Support elements for the Special Forces Task Group and a Navy clearance diver team capable of locating, rendering safe and disposing of mines will be farewelled next week and deployed at later dates. The Government will announce the farewell dates at an appropriate time.
These deployments will not affect the ADF’s capability to respond effectively to contingencies in our region or at home.
The Australian Government has not made any decision to commit to military operations against Iraq. We will not make such a decision unless and until we are satisfied that all avenues for a peaceful resolution have been explored.
The forward deployments are designed to step up diplomatic pressure on Saddam Hussein and to ensure the men and women of the ADF have the opportunity to acclimatise to conditions in the region, exercise with other coalition forces and prepare for a potential conflict should a diplomatic solution not be found.
As the Prime Minister has indicated, if Australia were to join some international contribution against Iraq then our contribution would be comparable to our commitment to the war against terrorism.
The full complement of ADF elements the Government has decided to forward deploy under Operation Bastille comprises:
A squadron of 14 F/A-18 Hornet fighter aircraft.
Three C130 Hercules transport aircraft.
An Air Forward Command Element responsible for coordinating air operations with coalition partners and providing national control of RAAF assets.
A small RAAF reconnaissance team already deployed to the Middle East who have been preparing for the possible deployment of the Hornets.
Sea transport ship HMAS Kanimbla, which left Sydney on Thursday 23 January with about 350 sailors and soldiers, a Sea King helicopter, Army landing craft, an Army air defence detachment and a specialist explosives ordnance team embarked. The Kanimbla will join frigates HMAS Anzac and Darwin in the Persian Gulf, where they are deployed as part of the Multinational Interception Force enforcing United Nations sanctions against Iraq.
A Navy clearance diver team capable of locating, rendering safe and disposing of mines.
An advance party for the Special Forces Task Group, including a Special Air Service squadron.
Special Forces support elements, including specialist troops to deal with the threat of weapons of mass destruction drawn from the newly-established Incident Response Regiment, CH-47 troop-lift helicopters and a quick reaction support force drawn from the Sydney-based 4RAR Commando unit.
Clear arrangements are in place to ensure the Australian Government remains in control of all ADF personnel, including those deploying under Operation Bastille.
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