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Change of command in the Middle East.



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MEDIA RELEASE SENATOR THE HON ROBERT HILL Minister for Defence Leader of the Government in the Senate

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Friday, 14 May 2004 88/2004

CHANGE OF COMMAND IN THE MIDDLE EAST

Defence Minister Robert Hill today announced the appointment of Brigadier Peter Hutchinson as the next Australian commander in the Middle East Area of Operations.

Brigadier Hutchinson will replace Commodore Campbell Darby who has commanded the Australian Defence Force contingent since late November last year.

Based in Baghdad, Brigadier Hutchinson will command about 850 Australia Defence Force personnel on active service in the Middle East to support Coalition stabilisation and reconstruction efforts in Iraq and the war against terrorism.

“Baghdad, Iraq and the Persian Gulf are difficult and dangerous environments and it is a credit to the professionalism and dedication to duty of all ADF personnel that they have remained safe and unharmed since the beginning of operations in the Middle East,” Senator Hill said.

“Brigadier Hutchinson assumes command at a crucial stage of the rebuilding of Iraq as coalition forces continue in their efforts to assist with the transition to self-government.

“The Brigadier, like the ADF commanders before him, will face a wide range of challenges as he leads the Australian commitment in the Middle East.”

Senator Hill said the ADF continued to make a substantial contribution to coalition efforts in Iraq and praised the command of Commodore Darby.

HMAS Stuart recently replaced HMAS Melbourne on patrol in the Persian Gulf. During her tour, which involved 90 days on station, Melbourne conducted 229 boardings and over 500 queries of oil tankers, dhows and passenger vessels.

The Army Security Detachment continues to provide 24-hour security for Australian Representative Office personnel, workplaces and accommodation. This work involves patrols on foot and in armoured conveys and is crucial to enabling the on-going work of the Representative Office.

The Air Force’s Air Traffic Controllers have performed tirelessly to ensure the safe and smooth flow of air traffic in and around Baghdad, and to date have handled over 14,000 aircraft movements.

C-130 Hercules transport aircraft have maintained an effective air bridge into Baghdad and other parts of Iraq as well as back to Australia. On over 500 missions into Iraq, these aircraft have carried over 11 million pounds of cargo and over 11,000 passengers.

Media contacts Catherine Fitzpatrick (Senator Hill) 02 6277 7800 0405 351 245

Defence Media Liaison 02 6265 3343 0408 498 664

www.defence.gov.au

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Our P3 Orion aircraft continue to provide invaluable support and win praise from Coalition partners, operating over the Persian Gulf and Iraq undertaking intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance missions.

Royal Australian Navy and Australian Army Training Teams continue with the role of training the new Iraqi armed forces.

In announcing the change of command, Senator Hill called on all Australians to offer support to the ADF personnel serving in the Middle East, as well as to their families and friends. This could be done through sending email or fax messages via the Defence Department.

MEDIA NOTE:

Brigadier Hutchinson’s biographical details are available at: www.defence.gov.au/opcatalyst/