Prime Minister of Australia, Scott Morrison, has visited Australian troops in Iraq, meeting with approximately 800 servicemen and women from the 7th Brigade. This was his first trip to the region as Prime Minister of Australia, after succeeding his predecessor, Malcolm Turnbull, in August 2018.
Many of the servicemen and women are currently helping with the training of the Iraqi security soldiers in the turbulent area. Prime Minister Morrison thanked those stationed at the Task Force Taji base for their service on behalf of the Government, the Parliament and the Australian public. He also praised the efforts of those in Baghdad, who also help train over 40 000 Iraqi troops.
While it’s not the greatest time to be Cronulla Sharks supporter given the salary cap dramas and the deregistering of coach, Shane Flanagan, the PM was all smiles as he presented troops with gifts. The gifts consisted of rugby league and AFL balls.
Prime Minister Morrison touched on how Australia’s role and position in the region has been gradually changing, gravitating to a more training-based influence. However, Prime Minister Morrison even went so far as saying that he wished for Australia to continue transitioning into a “training of trainers” role. Australia has had a presence in Iraq since 2001 and was involved in the invasion of Iraq in 2003. The Coalition forces were led by the United States, the United Kingdom, Australia and Poland.
During his visit, Prime Minister Morrison also met with the Prime Minister of Iraq, Adil Abdul-Mahdi. Mr Morrison was formally welcomed by the Iraqi Government with a welcome ceremony inside the palace. The bilateral discussions between the two leaders consisted of their ongoing commitment to fighting the threats posed by the Islamic State group and Al-Qaeda. Prime Minister Morrison commented that there would always be a chance that militant groups could resurge.
While this time of the year is usually a time of joy and relaxation, Prime Minister Morrison will be sweating on opinion polls, hoping public opinion begins to sway ahead of the 2019 election.