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Saturday, June 09, 2007

Australian Military Fills Role Vital to War on Terror

By Senior Airman Clark Staehle
379th Air Expeditionary Wing Public Affairs

SOUTHWEST ASIA -- Most tasks wouldn’t happen without teamwork, and the same holds true for the Global War on Terrorism. Many countries comprise the Coalition forces that augment the U.S. military’s presence in Southwest Asia, including the Australian military.

Here, the Royal Australian Air Force contributes planes and personnel, which are used to support other RAAF and Coalition operations in throughout the area of responsibility.

“I command a Royal Australian Air Force RAAF C-130 Hercules detachment of about 155 personnel that provides intra-theater airlift and sustainment support in the Middle East, with three transport aircraft, ground crew and other support elements,” said Wing Commander Rob Williams, Task Group 633.4 commander.

The RAAF has more than just planes and pilots here though. There are several Australian servicemembers who provide support from the Combined Air Operations Center. There, they provide intelligence for other Australian assets in the AOR.

“(We) provide air asset support to ensure that the Australian whole-of-government effort to rehabilitate Iraq and stabilize Afghanistan is successful,” said Leading Aircraftsman Mark Sweeney, Task Group 633.4 A2 Intelligence clerk.

The RAAF also has personnel there whose job it is to plan, publish and coordinate the detachment’s missions here. This includes ensuring any cargo its planes may be carrying arrives to its destination on time.

“(I help support GWOT) by ensuring that every available inch and pound of RAAF C-130 pallet space is allocated and arrives in the right place at the right time, carrying Australian or Coalition freight or (passengers),” said Squadron Leader Buzz Lawson, Task Group 633.4 A3-A5 C-130 air operations and planning.

Additionally, the Australian government also provides support for GWOT in other ways. They also have an overwatch battle group, which patrols provinces in Iraq. The country also works hand in hand with Dutch personnel in Afghanistan. Like the U.S. military, the RAAF also operates a version of the plane the U.S. Navy uses here, the P-3 Orion, which helps support Coalition intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance missions.

“In addition to the C-130 detachment, we also have a RAAF AP-3C Orion detachment of about 170 personnel that conducts maritime patrol operations, with two aircraft and associated command and support elements from a separate base in the Middle East,” Wing Commander Williams said. “The RAAF also has a number of staff embedded within Coalition headquarters throughout Iraq and Afghanistan.”

The relatively small detachment of RAAF servicemembers provides vital support needed to the rest of its forces throughout Southwest Asia.

“Our role here with the C-130s keeps all of this functioning,” said Squadron Leader Shane Peacey, a Task Group 633.4 C-130 pilot. “Although a small force, we Australians can pack a significant punch.”

Wing Commander Williams agreed that the RAAF provide essential services to the Coalition forces throughout the AOR.

“It provides Australian Defense Force personnel an opportunity to strengthen and continue the long history of cooperation between Australian and the U.S. and other coalition nations,” he said.

Photo - Royal Australian Air Force Squadron Leader Buzz Lawson, Task Grouop 633.4 A3-A5 C-130 Air Operations and Planning, works out flying schedules using a map of the area of responsibility. Photo by Senior Airman Clark Staehle.

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