Australian Prime Minister, Scott Morrison flew down to Iraq for a pre-Christmas visit to meet Australian troops deployed in the country
Since assuming office in August, the Prime Minister of Australia, Scott Morrison made his first visit to the Middle East. He flew down to Iraq to carry out a pre-Christmas meet with Australian Defence Force personnel and the special forces soldiers deployed in the country for training the Iraqi forces to combat the ISIS.
The Prime Minister addressed the troops at the Taji Military Complex, situated north of Baghdad. Appreciating the sacrifices and contributions made by the Australian troops, PM Morrison said, “I understand it’s a sacrifice – I understand it’s a big thing to be away from your family at this time of year – and that’s why I’ve decided to come just to say thank you from one Australian to another”. For the young soldiers, away from home on Christmas for the first time, the Prime Minister added, “On behalf of my family, to you and your families, I want to say thank you very much for your service”.
On a more formal note, he said, “I also want to thank you as a Prime Minister, as the leader of the government, as a member of the Australian Parliament, on behalf of our entire nation.” In the last three years, Australian troops deployed in the Middle Eastern nation have managed to train over forty thousand Iraqi soldiers.
The Prime Minister was also scheduled to make a visit to Afghanistan, however, the visit was cancelled due to security reasons on the advice of the Australian Defence Force Chief, General Angus Campbell
Australia currently has 150 Australian Defence Force troops and 80 special operations soldiers assigned to the air task group. The country has also supplied a security aid of $180 million to Iraq for duration of 2014 to 2020.