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Defence Minister Dr Brendan Nelson visits Australian troops in Iraq.



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Media contacts Andrew Hirst (Dr Nelson) 02 6277 7800 0434 182 787

Defence Public Affairs 02 6265 3343 0408 498 664

www.defence.gov.au

MEDIA RELEASE THE HON DR BRENDAN NELSON Minister for Defence

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Tuesday, 7 March 2006 023/2006

DEFENCE MINISTER DR BRENDAN NELSON VISITS AUSTRALIAN TROOPS IN IRAQ

I am pleased to announce I have completed a visit to Australia’s serving military personnel in Iraq and the Middle East.

In the company of the Chief of Defence Force, Air Chief Marshal Angus Houston, I had the honour to visit Australian troops deployed on Operation Catalyst, including the Al Muthanna Task Group in southern Iraq, along with Headquarters staff and the Security Detachment in Baghdad.

In my first overseas visit since being sworn in as Defence Minister, it was a privilege to see our people and witness the important contribution they are making to the rehabilitation of Iraq. The high morale and dedication of the Australian Defence Force personnel is impressive. Their role in the Middle East is vital. Their families can be very proud of them.

My visit also included meeting and talking to personnel deployed with our P-3C Orions, C-130 Hercules and HMAS Parramatta crew.

I also took the opportunity to hold a series of meetings with senior Coalition and Iraqi officials, including my counterpart the Iraqi Defence Minister Dr Sadoun, and the Commander of the Multi-National Forces - Iraq General Casey.

We currently have around 1320 ADF people deployed in Iraq for Operation Catalyst. We are committed to assisting our Coalition partners rebuild Iraq and stabilise the country. The Iraqi Government supports the presence of our forces, in particular, their excellent work helping to train the Iraqi Security Forces.

The Australian Government is committed to completing the task at hand in Iraq. While a lot has been achieved, much remains to be done.

We will not cut and run until our job is complete and the Iraqi Security Forces can provide protection for their own people.

Media Note

Vision of the Minister’s visit to Iraq will be fed to networks at Parliament House

Stills will be available at www.defence.gov.au/media/download/ after 8:30am AEST