Thursday, January 31, 2008

More on the Diggers

HOMECOMING FOR MIDDLE EAST TASK FORCE COMMAND The Minister for Defence Science and Personnel, the Honourable Mr Warren Snowdon, MP, today joined the Commander of the Australian Fleet, Rear Admiral Nigel Coates, AM, RAN and the Deputy Chief of Joint Operations, Air Vice Marshal Gregory Evans, AM, DSC, in welcoming home Commander Task Force 158 staff from the Middle East Area of Operations.Commodore Allan du Toit and his team of 30 Royal Australian Navy (RAN) personnel were deployed for more than four months and Mr Snowdon said it was heart warming to see them reunited with their families and friends. “I am extremely proud of the professionalism and commitment shown by the personnel of TF158. I thank them and their families for the sacrifices they have made in the service of their country.” Task Force 158 is part of multi-national force efforts to develop a secure and stable environment in Iraq, and facilitate self-government.“The Australian-led team was responsible for maintaining security in Iraqi territorial waters, which is vital for Iraq’s economy and for global security. The service men and women of TF158 have worked hard to safe guard Iraq’s critical offshore infrastructure, and to assist in the development of Iraqi maritime forces,” Mr Snowdon said.Command of TF158 is rotated between the United States, United Kingdom and Australia, and Commodore Allan du Toit was the third Australian to hold the position.Commodore du Toit said his team made a number of significant achievements, not least of which was overseeing the safe loading of over 100 tankers, or approximately $17 billion US dollars worth of oil exports, at the two Iraqi Oil Terminals.“My team also trained and certified the Iraqi Marine Force as being mission ready for the vital task of point defence of the Iraqi Oil Terminals and boarding and inspecting oil tankers and support craft. “TF158 also oversaw the transfer of responsibility for the Khawr Abd Allah waterway to the Iraqi Navy,” Commodore du Toit said.Commodore du Toit said he is proud of the meaningful contribution made by his very capable team in an internationally significant operation.

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