The Howard Government supported the disarmament of Iraq during the Iraq disarmament crisis. Australia later provided one of the four most substantial combat force contingents during the 2003 invasion of Iraq, under the operational codename Operation Falconer. Part of its contingent were among the first forces to enter Iraq after the official "execute" order. The initial Australian force consisted of three Royal Australian Navy ships, a 500-strong special forces task group, two AP-3C Orion maritime patrol aircraft, two B707 Air-to-Air refuelling aircraft, C-130 Hercules transport aircraft and No. 75 Squadron RAAF (which included 14 F/A-18 Hornet fighters). Combat forces committed to Operation Falconer for the 2003 Invasion were withdrawn during 2003. Under the name Operation Catalyst, Australian combat troops were redeployed to Iraq in 2005, however, and assumed responsibility for supporting Iraqi security forces in one of Iraq's southern provinces. These troops began withdrawing from Iraq on 1 June 2008 and were completely withdrawn by 28 July 2009.
A headquarters staff of about 60 personnel under the command of Brigadier Maurie McNarn.
Planning for the deployment of ADF units to the Middle East began in mid-2002 when Australian officers were attached to United States planning teams. This was before the Government's announcement that Australia would join the United States and British buildup, but was conducted as contingency planning which did not imply a commitment to war.
In keeping with its relatively small size, the Australian force made an important though limited contribution to Coalition operations during the invasion of Iraq. The Australian contribution was also geographically dispersed, with the Australian forces forming part of larger US and British units rather than a concentrated Australian unit. No Australian personnel were killed or taken prisoner during the war.
Brigadier Maurie McNarn on 21 March 2003, was the first Coalition or US combatant commander to hold an official press conference with the international media in Qatar. Australian contributions at the time were widely quoted owing to the lack of official operational news from other participants.
Prior to the outbreak of war the Australian naval force in the Persian Gulf continued to enforce the sanctions against Iraq. These operations were conducted by boarding parties from the RAN warships and the AP-3 Orion patrol aircraft.
Upon the outbreak of war the RAN's focus shifted to supporting the coalition land forces and clearing the approaches to Iraqi ports. HMAS Anzac provided gunfire support to Royal Marines during fighting on the Al-Faw Peninsula and the Clearance Diving Team took part in clearing the approaches to Umm Qasr. Boarding operations continued during the war, and on 20 March boarding parties from HMAS Kanimbla seized an Iraqi ship carrying 86 naval mines. Army LCM-8 Landing Craft were used as forward deployment and support platforms for the Navy boarding parties and were the first regular Maritime assets to the port of Umm Qasr, moving as far north as Basara on the inland waterways collecting intelligence for allied forces. LCM-8 Assets were utilised by British and American forces for various cargo transportation duties during the course of the war.
The primary role of the Special Forces Task Group was to secure an area of western Iraq from which it was feared that SCUD missiles could be launched. The SAS successfully entered Iraq by vehicle and United States helicopters and secured their area of responsibility after a week of fighting. Following this the SAS patrolled the highways in the area in order to block the escape of members of the Iraqi government and to prevent enemy foreign fighters from entering the country.
On 11 April the SAS Squadron was concentrated to capture the Al Asad Airbase. While this base proved to be almost undefended, the Australian troops captured over 50 MiG jets and more than 7.9 million kilograms of explosives. After securing the air base the SAS were reinforced by 4 RAR and the IRR elements. The Special Forces Task Group remained at Al Asad until the end of the war, when most of the SAS Squadron and IRR Troop returned home and the 4 RAR platoon (reinforced by elements of the SAS) was deployed to Baghdad to protect Australian diplomats.
No. 75 Squadron's initial role was to escort high-value Coalition aircraft such as tankers and AWACS aircraft. As it became clear that the Iraqi Air Force posed no threat, the role of No. 75 Squadron shifted to providing close air support to Coalition ground forces and air interdiction against Iraqi forces. These missions were initially flown in support of the US Army but the Squadron later switched to supporting the US Marines. As organized Baathist resistance crumbled, the F/A-18s were increasingly tasked to provide 'shows of force' to encourage Iraqi forces to surrender. During the war No. 75 Squadron flew a total of 350 sorties and dropped 122 laser-guided bombs.
Reports indicate that the No. 75 Squadron's activities were somewhat restricted in their military role compared to similarly equipped US forces. Australian aircraft were not permitted to operate in the "Baghdad SuperMEZ" (Missile Exclusion Zone) because of fears that the Hornet's electronic warfare systems were inadequate, though the report indicates that they were identical to American Hornets operating in this area. Furthermore, they were not permitted to conduct close air support missions in urban areas because of fears of collateral damage. These restrictions were in line with the rules of engagement set by the Australian Government, which were reportedly more restrictive than the rules governing the conduct of British and American forces.
The Australian C-130 transports and CH-47 helicopters provided airlift to Coalition forces, including the Australian Special Forces Task Group.
Following the capture of Baghdad Australian C-130 aircraft flew humanitarian supplies into the city. Almost all the forces deployed for the war returned to Australia shortly after the end of major fighting.
Unlike the three other countries which contributed combat forces to the war, Australia did not immediately contribute military forces to the post-war reconstruction of Iraq. Following victory, the Australian force in Iraq was limited to specialists attached to the Coalition headquarters in Baghdad and the search for Iraq's suspected weapons of mass destruction, a frigate in the Persian Gulf, a party of air traffic controllers at Baghdad International Airport, two C-130 Hercules transport aircraft, two AP-3C Orion aircraft and small Security Detachment (SECDET) consisting of infantry and Airfield Defence Guards protecting the Australian military units and diplomats based in Baghdad. This force was later expanded to include an Army training detachment and a small medical detachment attached to a US Air Force hospital. The Royal Australian Navy has also assumed command of coalition forces in the Persian Gulf on two occasions; Combined Task Force 58 in 2005 and Combined Task Force 158 in 2006.
During 2003 and 2004 the Australian Government was reported to have refused requests from the United States and United Nations to increase Australia's contribution to the Multinational force in Iraq through taking over the responsibility for providing security to a sector of Iraq. In February 2005, however, the Australian government announced that Australian Army would deploy a battlegroup to Al Muthanna Province to provide security for the Japanese engineers deployed to the province as well as to help train Iraqi security forces. This force — approximately 500 strong and equipped with armoured vehicles including ASLAVs and Bushmasters – named the Al Muthanna Task Group, commenced operations in April 2005. Following the withdrawal of the Japanese force and the transition of Al Muthanna to Iraqi control the Australian battlegroup relocated to Tallil Air Base in neighbouring Dhi Qar province in July 2006. The name AMTG was subsequently abandoned in favour of the title Overwatch Battle Group (West), reflecting the unit's new role. Al Muthana and Dhi Qar are the westernmost of the four southern provinces and OBG(W) became the prime coalition intervention force in the western sector of the British Multi-National Division (South-East) (Iraq) (MND-SE) Area of Operations, with MND-SE based in the southern port city of Basrah. Responsibility for overwatch in Dhi Qar was subsequently assumed from the withdrawing Italian contingent in late October 2006, whilst OBG(W) continued to train Iraqi security forces. By late 2006 overall personnel numbers committed to Operation Catalyst (Iraq) had risen to 1400.
As the Labor Party led by Kevin Rudd pledged in the 2007 election, Australian combat forces began withdrawing from Iraq on 1 June 2008 and the Overwatch Battle Group (West) and Australian Army Training Team formally ceased combat operations on 2 June 2008, having helped train 33,000 Iraqi soldiers. Approximately 200 Australian personnel will remain in Iraq on logistical and air surveillance duties. All personnel other than those in SECDET and two officers attached to the United Nations will be withdrawn in July 2009.
No Australian military personnel were killed in action during Operation Falconer or Operation Catalyst, although three died in accidents or during service with British forces; many more have been wounded. Additionally as many as six Australians have been killed whilst working as private security contractors.
Paul Pardoel, 35, was a Flight Lieutenant serving as a Navigator in the RAF. He died when his C-130 Hercules from No 47 Squadron crashed in Iraq on 30 January 2005 killing all ten crew aboard. He was an Australian citizen serving in the British Armed Forces, having transferred from the RAAF in 2002. He was originally from Victoria.
David Nary, 42, was a Warrant Officer with the Australian Special Air Service Regiment. He was killed on 5 November 2005 after being struck by a vehicle during a training exercise in Kuwait prior to deployment to Iraq.
Jake Kovco, 25, was a Private serving in the 3rd Battalion, the Royal Australian Regiment. He was part of the SECDET in Baghdad when he was killed on 21 April 2006 from a gunshot wound to the head that was believed to have been accidentally self-inflicted.
The Australian military contribution was relatively small in proportional terms, around 2,000 personnel in total, or 2.42% of its military compared to the United States 4.85% and the United Kingdom's 12%.
With one obvious exception, the particular forces committed by the Australian Government can be seen by some as modest and to follow past practice closely. Australia committed special forces to the US-led invasion of Afghanistan in roughly similar numbers to those above. The two RAN frigates were already on-station for the Afghanistan campaign; Kanimbla was a relatively small addition to the naval force. RAN clearance divers also took part in the Gulf War.
Australia sent Hercules and Orion aircraft to assist in the Afghanistan campaign—but also Boeing 707 tankers, which had not been committed to the Gulf War, despite a marked Coalition shortage of probe/drogue capable tanker aircraft. The absence of the 707s was likely caused by technical rather than policy reasons: the RAAF has only four second-hand 707 tankers; all are at the end of their service lives, very difficult to maintain and soon to be replaced.
The commitment of No. 75 Squadron and its supporting personnel, however, was a major change from past practice. Australia did not commit combat aircraft to the 1991 Gulf War, and although a small detachment of Hornets was deployed to Diego Garcia during the Afghanistan campaign to provide airfield defence for the joint United States-United Kingdom military facility present there, this was not a true combat role, however, but simply a precaution against possible suicide attacks by hijacked civil aircraft. The commitment of No. 75 Squadron was the first combat deployment of Australian aircraft since the Vietnam War.
No official statement has been made on the reasons behind the choice of F/A-18 fighters as Australia's primary combat commitment, but it is commonly assumed that the obvious alternative of sending a substantial land force instead was considered to involve an unacceptably high risk of casualties, particularly given the possibility of house-to-house fighting in Iraqi cities. Iraq is largely landlocked, and Australia no longer has a fixed-wing naval aviation component; thus, a larger naval commitment could not be considered particularly helpful. The choice of the F/A-18 deployment rather than of the F-111 tactical bomber may have been due to the higher cost of operation of the F-111, and its use being limited to more politically contentious ground attack missions rather than more uncontentious tasks like combat air patrols.
The cost of the Iraq war to Australian taxpayers is estimated to have exceeded A$5 billion. The cost of Australia's involvement in Iraq has risen since the initial invasion gave way to a protracted insurgency. Excluding debt relief, the annual cost has risen from just over $400 million in 2003–04 to $576.6 million in the 2007 financial year. Ancillary costs included:
Australia's commander in the region, Brig. Gen. Maurie McNarn, mentioned the operation by Australian Special Air Service commandos to reporters in Qatar on Friday. He said that his forces had moved deep inside Iraq for several days. Their primary role is strategic reconnaissance, although in some cases where there are command and control nodes which are used for communications for controlling W.M.D., he said, using the abbreviation for weapons of mass destruction, We will in some cases have taken direct action against those.
The 2nd Commando Regiment is a special forces unit of the Australian Army, and is part of Special Operations Command. The regiment was established on 19 June 2009 when the 4th Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment (Commando) was renamed. It is based at Holsworthy, New South Wales. The 2nd Commando Regiment often trains and deploys with the Special Air Service Regiment, is highly regarded by coalition special operation forces abroad, and has been involved in operations in East Timor, Iraq and Afghanistan, where it was used in a direct action warfighting role. It has also been involved in a number of domestic security operations including the 2006 Commonwealth Games and the 2014 G20 Leaders Summit.Air Combat Group RAAF
The Royal Australian Air Force's Air Combat Group (ACG) is the group which administers the RAAF's fighter and bomber aircraft. ACG was formed on 7 February 2002 by merging the RAAF's Tactical Fighter Group and Strike Reconnaissance Group in an attempt to improve the speed with which the RAAF can deploy its combat aircraft. The current commander of ACG is Air Commodore Anthony Grady.
Since the Group's formation, ACG aircraft have deployed to Diego Garcia during Operation Slipper and formed part of the Australian contribution to the 2003 invasion of Iraq. ACG also worked on Operation Guardian II, which was the protection of the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting 2002, and on Operation Falconer, which was providing a larger ground crew and strike force in Iraq. Other tasks have included support for Operation Acolyte (Melbourne Commonwealth Games 2006) and participation in exercises such as Exercise Pitch Black in Australia and Exercise Red Flag in the United States. Aircraft from the Group have also performed domestic security tasks and participated in overseas exercises.
It comprises No. 78, No. 81 and No. 82 Wings. No. 78 Wing RAAF is headquartered at RAAF Williamtown. It commands No. 76 Squadron, based at RAAF Williamtown, No. 79 Squadron, based at RAAF Pearce, No. 2 Operational Conversion Unit, based at RAAF Williamtown, and No. 278 Squadron, which provides technical training specific to flight training. No. 81 Wing RAAF is headquartered at RAAF Williamtown. It commands No. 3 Squadron, based at RAAF Williamtown, No. 75 Squadron, based at RAAF Tindal, and No. 77 Squadron, based at RAAF Williamtown. No. 82 Wing RAAF is headquartered at RAAF Amberley. It commands No. 1 Squadron, based at RAAF Amberley, No. 6 Squadron, based at RAAF Amberley, and the Forward Air Control Development Unit (FACDU), based at RAAF Williamtown.
It is accountable for all of the Air Force's F/A-18 Hornet, Super Hornet and Hawk squadrons, as well as the PC-9A Forward Air Control aircraft. The ACG is equipped with McDonnell Douglas/Boeing F/A-18 Hornet/Super Hornet fighter and attack aircraft, BAE Hawk trainers and Pilatus P/C-9(A) forward air control training aircraft.Falconer
Falconer may refer to:
A person skilled in the art of falconryFinancial cost of the Iraq War
The following is a partial accounting of financial costs of the 2003 Iraq War by the United States and the United Kingdom, the two largest non-Iraqi participants of the multinational force in Iraq.History of Australia since 1945
The history of Australia since 1945 has seen long periods of economic prosperity and the introduction of an expanded and multi-ethnic immigration program, which has coincided with moves away from Britain in political, social and cultural terms and towards increasing engagement with the United States and Asia.Linda Corbould
Wing Commander Linda Mary Corbould OAM is a retired officer of the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF), who was the first woman to command a RAAF flying squadron. She joined the RAAF in 1981, and became one of its first female pilots in the early 1990s. Corbould flew transport aircraft, including during the Iraq War in 2003, and commanded No. 36 Squadron from 2006 to 2008. She retired from the RAAF in 2011, but remains an officer in the Air Force Reserve.McDonnell Douglas F/A-18 Hornet in Australian service
The Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) has operated McDonnell Douglas F/A-18 Hornet fighter aircraft since 1984. The Australian Government purchased 75 "A" and "B" variants of the F/A-18 in 1981 to replace the RAAF's Dassault Mirage III fighters. The Hornets entered service with the RAAF between 1984 and 1990, and 69 remain in operation as of 2019. Of the other six Hornets, four were destroyed in flying accidents during the late 1980s and early 1990s and two were transferred to Canada in February 2019.
RAAF Hornets were first sent on a combat deployment as part of the Australian contribution to the 2003 invasion of Iraq. During the invasion, 14 Hornets flew patrols over Iraq, as well as close air support sorties to assist coalition ground forces. RAAF F/A-18s also provided security for the American air base at Diego Garcia between late 2001 and early 2002, and have protected a number of high-profile events in Australia. Between 2015 and 2017 a detachment of Hornets was deployed to the Middle East and struck ISIL targets as part of Operation Okra.
Since 1999 the RAAF has put its Hornets through a series of upgrades to improve their effectiveness. However, the aircraft are becoming increasingly difficult to operate and are at risk of being outclassed by the fighters and air-defence systems operated by other countries. As a result, the RAAF will begin to retire its F/A-18s in the late 2010s, and the last aircraft will leave service in the early 2020s. Under current Australian Government planning they will be replaced by 72 Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II fighters. The Australian Government has offered the Hornets for sale once they are no longer needed by the RAAF, and finalised a deal to sell 25 of the aircraft to Canada in early 2019.Multi-National Force – Iraq
The Multi-National Force – Iraq (MNF–I), often referred to as the coalition forces, was a military command during the 2003 invasion of Iraq and much of the ensuing Iraq War, led by the United States of America (Operation Iraqi Freedom), United Kingdom (Operation TELIC), Australia, Spain and Poland, responsible for conducting and handling military operations.
The MNF-I replaced the previous force, Combined Joint Task Force 7, on 15 May 2004, and was later itself reorganized into its successor, United States Forces – Iraq, on 1 January 2010. The Force was significantly reinforced during the Iraq War troop surge of 2007. As of May 2011, all non-U.S. coalition members had withdrawn from Iraq, with the U.S. military withdrawing from the country on December 18, 2011, thus, bringing about an end to the Iraq War.Also in Iraq, since August 2003, is the United Nations Assistance Mission in Iraq, which does humanitarian work and has a number of guards and military observers. The U.N. Assistance Mission in Iraq was not a part of the MNF-I, but a separate entity. The NATO Training Mission – Iraq, was in Iraq from 2004 to December 2011, where it trained the Iraqi Army and the Iraqi police forces.No. 75 Squadron RAAF
No. 75 Squadron is a Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) fighter unit based at RAAF Base Tindal in the Northern Territory. The squadron was formed in 1942 and saw extensive action in the South West Pacific theatre of World War II, operating P-40 Kittyhawks. It was disbanded in 1948, but reformed the following year and operated jet aircraft throughout the Cold War. The squadron was based at Malta from 1952 to 1954, flying de Havilland Vampires, and Malaysia from 1968 to 1983, with Dassault Mirage IIIs, before returning to Australia.
The squadron was re-equipped with F/A-18 Hornet fighters and moved to RAAF Base Tindal in 1988. It was placed on alert to support the Australian-led INTERFET peacekeeping deployment to East Timor in 1999, and saw combat in 2003 as part of the Australian contribution to the invasion of Iraq and in 2015 during the military intervention against ISIL.Official History of Australian Operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, and Australian Peacekeeping Operations in East Timor
The Official History of Australian Operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, and Australian Peacekeeping Operations in East Timor is an Australian official history series currently under preparation. It was approved by the Australian Government in 2015, and is due to be completed by mid-2022.Ray Funnell
Air Marshal Raymond George (Ray) Funnell, (born 1 March 1935) is a retired senior commander of the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF). He served as Chief of the Air Staff (CAS) from 1987 until 1992. A graduate of RAAF College, he began his career flying CAC Sabre jet fighters in Australia and South East Asia in the 1950s and 1960s. From 1972 to 1975 he commanded No. 6 Squadron, during which time the General Dynamics F-111C swing-wing bomber entered Australian service. He held senior staff posts in the early 1980s. In 1986, he was promoted to air marshal and became the inaugural Vice Chief of the Defence Force. Appointed CAS in July 1987, Funnell was closely involved in the development and dissemination of air power doctrine. He retired from the RAAF in October 1992 following his term as CAS, and was founding Principal of the Australian College of Defence and Strategic Studies from 1994 to 1998. Since then he has served on various Federal Government committees on immigration and detention.Security Detachment Iraq (Australia)
The Security Detachment Iraq (SECDET Iraq) was the final component of Australia's contribution to coalition operations in Iraq. SECDET was based on an Australian Army combined arms combat team consisting of an infantry company group and a troop of cavalry which operated the Australian Light Armoured (ASLAV) vehicles. The force's duties included static security guarding at the Australian Embassy in Baghdad and the protection of Australian diplomats and vehicle convoys. SECDET was withdrawn in August 2011, with the firm Unity Resources Group becoming responsible for providing security for Australia's diplomatic presence in Iraq.Special Air Service Regiment
The Special Air Service Regiment, officially abbreviated SASR though commonly known as the SAS, is a special forces unit of the Australian Army. Formed in 1957, it was modelled on the British SAS sharing the motto, "Who Dares Wins". The regiment is based at Campbell Barracks, in Swanbourne, a suburb of Perth, Western Australia, and is a direct command unit of the Special Operations Command. It has taken part in operations in Borneo, Vietnam, Somalia, East Timor, Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as many other peacekeeping missions. The SASR also provides a counter-terrorist capability, and has been involved in a number of domestic security operations.