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Aussie Troops Ready for Iraq Tour (Mar. 2)

The group of 450 Darwin soldiers who will soon make up the Al Muthanna Task Group (AMTG) that will be deployed to southern Iraq are undergoing rigorous training and preparation work in the lead up to the operation.

Defence Minister Robert Hill will visit the troops from 1 Brigade in Darwin today to gain a better insight into the preparation that is needed before the Task Group commences operations in Iraq in less than 10 weeks.

Senator Hill said the Task Group is currently undergoing reconnaissance and planning in preparation for the deployment. They will also be taken through work-up training and mission rehearsals.

"All members of the Task Group will be put through a comprehensive and demanding series of training activities specifically designed to ensure they are fully prepared for the operation," Senator Hill said.

"This training will build on the already high level of experience and capability within 1 Brigade units from their recent involvement in operations, including Operation Catalyst in Iraq.

"The safety of our troops remains this Government’s highest priority and every effort is being made to ensure they deploy with all necessary equipment and training.

"The preparation covers a wide range of activities including training people and preparing equipment for the mission, getting transport and support elements into position and helping families to prepare for their loved one’s absence."

An Army Reconnaissance team is currently in Iraq to gather information to assist in the preparation of the Task Group.

"Information will be gained from the reconnaissance team as well as our intelligence organisation and our allies," Senator Hill said.

"Further information will be gained on the specific tasks the Task Force will be required to perform, medical support arrangements, local culture and climate.

"The new world-class Army Combat Training Centre at Robertson Barracks will also be used to help train the Task Group in simulated operational conditions before deployment."

1 Brigade has previously been involved in operations in Iraq providing personnel for the Security Detachment and the Australian Army Training Team Iraq.

"Our ASLAVs have already demonstrated that they are one of the best light armoured vehicles in the world and they continue to be enhanced to meet the changing threat environment," Senator Hill said.

"The personal protective equipment provided to Australian soldiers, such as ballistic goggles, enhanced combat helmet and combat body armour, has already proven its value on the streets of Baghdad.

"The outstanding preparation, training and equipment of 1 Brigade units has already been a significant factor in the success of Operation Catalyst and in protecting Australian troops."

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Army Task Group Getting Ready for Operations