Photo: Australian Army Deputy Commander Joint Task Force 633 Brigadier Paul Nothard salutes the parade as the Reviewing Officer for the Transfer of Authority parade for Task Group Taji rotation six.

More than 300 Australian Defence Force personnel are returning to Australia in time for Christmas, after a six-month deployment on Operation OKRA in Iraq.

Task Group Taji 5 leaves Iraq having contributed to the development of the Iraqi Security Forces to restore security across the country.

Colonel Steven D’Arcy, the outgoing Task Group Commander, praised the efforts of Task Group 5, Coalition Forces and the Iraqi Security Forces for their achievements.

“I am incredibly proud of the men and women of Task Group Taji 5,” Colonel D’Arcy said.

“Their efforts have made a tangible difference in the fight against Daesh.

“The training Task Group Taji 5 delivered will allow the Iraqi Security Forces to continue their successful operations against Daesh.

“The progress of the Iraqi Security Forces, through some intense fighting, has been truly incredible.”

The training delivered by Task Group Taji 5 included tactics, techniques and procedures for company to brigade level operations, combat leadership and combined arms operations as part of the continued international effort to build the capacity of the Iraqi Security Forces.

Colonel D’Arcy has handed over authority for the mission to incoming Commander Task Group Taji 6, Colonel Robert Calhoun.

Colonel Calhoun said Task Group Taji 6 takes on a great responsibility.

“Our responsibility is to maintain the great work of the previous rotations, and in particular Task Group Taji 5, that enables the continued growth and development of the Iraqi Security Forces,” Colonel Calhoun said.

A ceremony on 6 December 2017 marked the formal transfer the authority of the mission to Task Group Taji 6, who have now commenced their six-month rotation.

Since May 2015, the combined Australian-New Zealand Task Group has trained more than 28,000 Iraqi Security Forces personnel, including more than 4,000 personnel trained by Task Group Taji 5.

More than 300 Australian and 100 New Zealand military personnel are deployed to Iraq on Operation OKRA as part of Task Group Taji 6.

Source: Commonwealth of Australia copyright and Department of Defence