Australia to keep spy planes in Iraq even after troop withdrawalDecember 7th, 2007 - 6:46 pm ICT by admin
Sydney, Dec 7 (ANI): The role of Australian Defence Force (ADF) in Iraq will continue even after its withdrawal from there, which is on the cards. It is likely that the Aussie military will provide Iraqi administration and the US marines based there with surveillance and reconnaissance facilities.
With the victory of Labor party in the recently concluded elections, the withdrawal of Australian troops from Iraq has become almost certain, as newly elected Prime Minster Kevin Rudd had made it an issue during his poll campaign.
“If we have to withdraw the combat element, primarily the Overwatch Battle Group, they (Australians) have worked hard over the past few months to provide an environment by which the Iraqi army and Government have the confidence to stand on their own two feet,” the Australian quoted, Major General Mark Evans, Australia’s Middle East commander, as saying.
Currently, ADF’s 515-strong combat taskforce is stationed in Iraq, along with Orion surveillance aircraft and two hi-tech P3C spy planes, which are supported by 170 air force personnel. General Evans said that his US counterparts are prepared for the ADF pullout from southern al-Muthanna and Dhi Qar provinces.
“I am quite positive about where we are at, if the Government directs us to withdraw the battle group,” he said, adding, “I think we will have done an excellent job both assisting the Iraqi army in Dhi Qar and al-Muthanna.”
It is also likely that a 100-strong training team of the Australian force would not be withdrawn under the Rudd Iraq policy.
The team has trained over 14,000 Iraqi security personnel till date. (ANI)
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