News National Abbott, Shorten farewell troops bound for Iraq

Abbott, Shorten farewell troops bound for Iraq

Tony Abbott
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Prime Minister Tony Abbott and Opposition Leader Bill Shorten have officially farewelled about 300 troops at Brisbane’s Enoggera Defence base ahead of their deployment to Iraq.

The troops from Brisbane’s 7th Brigade are being deployed on a six-month rotation to help the fight against the Islamic State (ISIL) militant group as part of Task Group Taji.

Hundreds gathered at Gallipoli Barracks for the official farewell ceremony, which was also attended by Defence Minister Kevin Andrews.

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Security was increased, with Defence asking the media not to identify the troops being deployed or their family members.

Colonel Matthew Galton said it was a safety precaution.

“The enemy we are facing has shown they are quite sophisticated,” he said.

“They have been able to exploit things like social media so we are just taking prudent precautions for the safety of the troops, but more so for the safety of their families back home.”

The 7th Brigade lost 10 serving members out of the 41 Australian Defence personnel killed during Operation Slipper in Afghanistan.

In his address to the troops on Tuesday, Mr Abbott said he knew they would do an outstanding job.

“You are going to train and not to fight, but you are a strong, a well-equipped, a highly professional and a committed force and I know that you will give a very good account of yourself,” he said.

“I know that you are more than capable of looking after yourselves in every way that might be necessary.

“It’s also fitting on the eve of the centenary of Anzac that this yet again is a partnership between Australia and New Zealand.

“Good luck, may God bless you, and we look forward to welcoming you back after your mission is accomplished.”

Mr Shorten told the troops they were beginning “a new chapter in our Anzac story”.

“One hundred years on, Australian and New Zealand troops again go in harm’s way to a country drawn from three provinces of that former Ottoman empire,” he said.

“You know that this will be a complex, difficult mission.

“It’s been said that Gallipoli defined the attributes Australians expect of ourselves in war – courage, mateship, ingenuity, discipline, initiative and a strong sense of humour.

“We’re honoured to be here today, witness to these same qualities. We are not a war-like people but we do produce remarkable warriors.

“You bring new honour to a century-old tradition.”

The operation was signed off by Federal Cabinet last month.

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