Photo: AAP Image/David Mariuz
It has been an honour and a privilege to visit around 800 of Australia’s serving men and women in our defence forces here in Iraq and at our main Middle East logistical hub to thank them for their service.
Australians of all generations are proud of the service they are rendering for our country and I was able to see firsthand the professionalism, dedication and skills they are bringing to their respective tasks.
Our forces are highly regarded for the work they are doing here and deeply respected by our allies and partners.
It was my great privilege as Prime Minister to meet with as many of our service men and women as possible and thank them all for their service; not just personally but on behalf of our Government, the Parliament and most importantly, every single Australian.
Our ADF members serving overseas at this time of year are all making a real sacrifice to serve their country and in doing so be away from their families, friends and loved ones.
This is hard at the best of times and especially so at Christmas and we are thankful.
On my trip I have seen firsthand the work that members of the Australian Defence Force are undertaking, supporting the development and security of the region.
Our serving personnel in the region today and the tens of thousands who have served since 2001, have been vital in our efforts to combat radical Islamic terrorism, whether that be in Mosul, Kandahar or back at home.
Through our efforts in Baghdad and Taji, Australian Forces have trained over 40,000 Iraqi troops, building their capacity so they can continue to protect their people and make their communities safer.
That’s something to be proud of and it’s something we should all honour.
We will continue to work side by side with Iraqis, Afghans and our Coalition partners to destroy Da’esh and Al Qaeda.
During my visit I met with the Iraqi Prime Minister Adil Abd Al-Mahdi to reinforce our ongoing commitment to fighting Da’esh and its sympathisers.