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Australian Defence Force contingent deployment to the Gulf to continue.



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Minister for Defence

The Hon Ian McLachlan AO MP

 

Parliament House

Canberra ACT 2600

Telephone: (06) 2777800 

Facsimile: (06) 2734118

 

 

MEDIA RELEASE

 

Friday, 8 May 1998

 

AUSTRALIAN DEFENCE FORCE CONTINGENT

DEPLOYMENT TO THE GULF TO CONTINUE

 

The Federal Government has decided to maintain an Australian Defence Force contingent with the Coalition forces operating in the Persian Gulf, but with a reduction in numbers.

 

Federal Cabinet meeting this week decided to renew the deployment of the ADF contingent following its initial three month deployment in Kuwait.

 

“The ADF contingent was originally deployed because of Iraqi refusal to cooperate with UNSCOM. The Coalition operation helped the UN Secretary General achieve an agreement with Iraq on USCOM inspections.

 

“But the international community cannot afford to be complacent. It is important to ensure Iraq grants unconditional and unrestricted access to UNSCOM inspectors and that it fully complies with all Security Council resolutions requiring it to completely destroy its weapons of mass destruction”.

 

The Minister for Defence, Mr Ian McLachlan, said that the two RAAF 707 aerial refuelling aircraft and support personnel would be withdrawn and the SAS Regiment field elements ‘thinned’ to one troop of around 30 personnel.

 

He said that staff and liaison officers would remain at each component headquarters while those force elements returned to Australia would be maintained on short notice to move if the Government so decides. SASR personnel currently deployed in Kuwait will return to Australia as previously planned, and be replaced by a further contingent from the regiment.

 

This decision follows Minister McLachlan’s discussions in Kuwait with the Kuwait Government as well as with the New Zealand Minister for Defence, the United Kingdom Secretary of State for Defence, and the United States Secretary of Defence.

 

The decision reflects our continuing commitment to the international Coalition and to UNSCOM’s efforts to eliminate Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction capability.

 

“The renewed deployment will be for three months, unless there is a significant change of circumstance to warrant reconsideration of the duration”.

 

Command arrangements and rules of engagement will remain unchanged from those of the first deployment.

 

The Defence Minister said that the presence of the ADF contingent in the Gulf has assisted in strengthening defence relations between Australia and Kuwait.

 

“We expect an exchange of letters on defence cooperation between Australia and Kuwait soon.

 

“Our personnel on deployment have lived up to the high standards expected of the ADF”, Mr McLachlan said. “I have no doubt that will be the case with the continued deployment.”

 

“The Australian Defence Force contingent, working closely with the United States, New Zealand and United Kingdom forces have gained valuable operational experience”, Mr McLachlan said.

 

“While I cannot comment on the exact nature of the activities of the SAS troops, they have carried out their duties professionally and efficiently.

 

“The RAAF flight and ground support personnel for the two 707 aircraft have played an important aerial refuelling role in Operations Southern Watch which enforces the ‘no-fly’ zone over southern Iraq.

 

“The RAAF detachment has refuelled US Prowler, Hornet, and Harrier aircraft plus British Tornado and Harrier aircraft, off loading two and a half million pounds of fuel in air-to-air refuelling missions, with extremely high rates of aircraft on line availability”, Mr McLachlan said.

 

 

Media Contact:  Jim Bonner O4l9 489 378