Christmas message to the Australian Defence Force
Australians are so proud of you. Proud of your discipline, professionalism and preparedness to put your lives on the line.
You keep us safe in a dangerous world. You defend our freedom.
And you do so in an entirely modern way with the technology and science of 2015.
But with the same values of mateship and patriotism as your ANZAC forebears of 1915.
This Christmas we thank you, the men and women of the ADF, and especially those of you who are serving abroad – around the world, in the deserts and skies of Iraq, the high hills of Afghanistan or the high seas – away from your family and loved ones.
Christmas is a joyful time when we catch up with friends and family we see too rarely in our busy lives. But it is also a poignant time when absences are most keenly felt, especially those who have died in Australia's service.
We honour their sacrifice. We renew our pledge to support their families just as we pledge to support our veterans.
In this ANZAC centenary year we do not forget that the best way to honour the diggers of 1915 is to support the servicemen and women, and the veterans of 2015.
The ADF has more than 2,200 servicemen and women deployed overseas from Africa to the Middle East to the Pacific.
The Army's Task Group Taji oversaw the first two graduations of Iraqi soldiers in June and November, with approximately 4,200 troops trained or being trained to assist the ongoing nation-building effort in Iraq and in taking the fight to Daesh. Our special forces likewise are assisting their Iraqi counterparts. And our Air Force have six FA-18s and other aircraft involved in missions in that theatre. These operations are ably supported by our people in the Middle East and back here in Australia.
This year saw a new phase in your important work in Afghanistan, with the start of Operation Highroad, advising and mentoring Afghan National Defence and Security Forces.
And our Navy has been deployed, including to the Gulf where it has aided efforts to counter terrorism and piracy in the region – seizing billions of dollars’ worth of illegal drugs.
Shortly after World War One, Lieutenant-General Sir John Monash said in a Christmas message to our returned troops:
"You diggers have learnt during the war the value of comradeship, self-sacrifice, mutual trust between your leaders and yourselves, and how to labour in a common cause. These are lessons you have purchased dearly. It is up to you and me ... [to] never to forget these lessons."
So, wherever you are serving, thank you again for your continuing service, and on behalf of Lucy and our family and all Australians wish you all a very Happy Christmas and good fortune for 2016.