Australian troops to the Middle East

Prime Minister Abbott announces that Australian troops and aircrafts will join American troops in the Middle East

Australia will deploy a military force of 600 to the Middle East as part of international efforts to combat Islamic State extremists, Prime Minister Tony Abbott has announced.

Mr Abbott said Australia had received a specific request from the US government to contribute forces to possible military action in Iraq.

Cabinet and the National Security Committee had met on Sunday to discuss the matter.

‘The government has decided to prepare and to deploy to the United Arab Emirates a military force,’ Mr Abbott told reporters in Darwin.

Australia’s contribution will include up to eight Super Hornet aircraft, an early warning and control aircraft, aerial refuelling aircraft and a contingent of Special Forces troops.

The prime minister emphasised that Australia was part of an international coalition.

He said the deployment did not mean Australia was at war.

‘There are obviously further decisions to be taken before Australian forces will be committed to combat operations in Iraq,’ Mr Abbott said.
‘Nevertheless, Australia is prepared to engage in international operations to disrupt and degrade ISIL because of the threat that this murderous death cult poses not just to the people of Iraq, not just to the people of the Middle East, but to the whole world, including to Australia.’

Special Forces troops will act as military advisers to Iraqi and other security forces fighting Islamic State extremists.

Mr Abbott warned Australia’s involvement could last many months, rather than weeks.

He said he was not aware of any Australians being held hostage by IS terrorists.

The Islamist group has released a video purportedly showing a masked militant killing British aid worker David Haines, who was taken hostage in Syria in March 2013.

Mr Abbott’s reaction to the beheading – the third in recent weeks – was one of ‘shock, horror, outrage and fury’ and he now had a steely determination to tackle the terrorists.

‘The evil and exaltation in evil that was yet again on display today, should make all of us more resolved than ever to do whatever we reasonably can to disrupt, degrade and if possible destroy this movement,’ he said.

He would not call the movement Islamic State because it was neither Islamic nor a state.

‘It is a death cult,’ Mr Abbott said.

The prime minister said about 400 air personnel and about 200 military personnel would be involved in the deployment.

He said ‘air elements’ would depart in the next week or so, while “military elements” could depart sooner.

‘We think this is a balanced and proportionate contribution to what is our fight, but it is the world’s fight,’ Mr Abbott said.

‘Australia has a long and proud tradition of doing what we can to help at home and abroad to make for a safer Australia and a safer world.’
He rejected suggestions growing involvement in Iraq would make Australia a target.

‘These terrorists and would-be terrorists are not targeting us for what we have done or for what we might do, they are targeting us for who we are, they are targeting us for our freedom, our tolerance, for our compassion, for our decency,’ he said.

Chief of the Defence Force, Air Chief Marshal Mark Binskin, said disrupting and degrading Islamic State would take a ‘comprehensive and sustained effort’.

‘But … if we do nothing, the risk of allowing the shocking acts of ISIL to further destabilise the Middle East and spread beyond the Middle East region, potentially back to Australia, is a greater risk,’ he said.

Source: Daily Mail / Sept. 14, 2014

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