From: Defence Media
Sent: Thu 12/25/2014 9:16 AM

Christmas for Australia’s military personnel on Operations

Some 2200 ADF personnel are deployed on operations away from their families and loved ones this Christmas Day.

Australia’s ongoing contribution to the world’s stability and security encompasses operations in Iraq, Afghanistan, the broader Middle East Region and South Sudan.

Closer to home, Defence personnel continue their important contribution to protecting Australia’s borders through Operation RESOLUTE.

In Afghanistan, Operation SLIPPER’s Commander Joint Task Force 636, Major General David Mulhall, AM, CSC paid tribute to the support troops receive from Australia.

“We rely very much on the support of our families and friends at home. Our job is about transitioning into the new mission so that we can make the people of Afghanistan safe and to be able to assist with the sustainability of their institutions,” MAJGEN Mullhall said.

“We could not do our job without our families, and all the men and women here thank you very much for the support that you give us. It’s very much appreciated, and from my family to your family, have a great Christmas and New Year.”

At Australia’s main support base in the Middle East, Operation ACCORDION’s Commander Joint Task Force 633, Rear Admiral Trevor Jones, AO, CSC, RAN said regardless of people’s spiritual views, the festivities which accompany the Christmas holiday period offer all families the opportunity to gather in peace to celebrate life.

“For our personnel deployed on operations this is especially important as we think of our loved ones at home,” RADM Jones said.

“To all Australians, the men and women of Joint Task Force 633 wish each of you a very rewarding and enjoyable festive season and thank all of you for your continuing support to us as we strive to achieve our mission.”

Also in the Middle East with Operation OKRA, the Royal Australian Air Force’s Air Task Group Commander, Air Commodore Steven Roberton, said spending Christmas away from home wouldl not be easy for the women and men of the ATG..

“We are here for a reason and there is still a job to do. We are focused on the task of flying missions to help restore the security situation in Iraq, thereby easing the humanitarian crisis suffered by the Iraqi people,” AIRCDRE Roberton said.

“Although we are very aware of the precious time lost, time that could have been spent with family and friends, we have perspective on our relative situation to those other families who may never enjoy the security and freedom we enjoy at home as Australians.

“Christmas this year is a time for reflection as well as celebration. The families and the broader Australian community have every right to be extremely proud of the men and women of the ATG.”

In Iraq, Operation OKRA’s Special Operations Task Group’s Commanding Officer, Lieutenant Colonel I [name withheld] said Christmas would be spent advising and assisting Iraqi partners in their fight against ISIL.

“It is a worthy and noble undertaking. While it comes at a cost to our families and loved ones, we promise to make up for it on our return to Australia. In the meantime, we will spend Christmas in the company of each other, our Iraqi brothers, and in our thoughts for our wives, husbands, partners, kids and other extended family,” LTCOL I said.

“On behalf of the soldiers and airmen of the SOTG, I wish all Australians a merry Christmas and ask them to take a little time to spare a thought for those who have unnecessarily suffered at the hands of totalitarianism and intolerance throughout the Middle East in this past 12 months.”

Media note: At approximately 10:00am tomorrow (Friday, 26 December 2014) broadcast quality video will be fed to the Press Gallery at Parliament House. Regional television networks can obtain footage from their national affiliates.

Still images will be available at: http://images.defence.gov.au/12132160

Media contact:
Defence Media Operations (02) 6127 1999