‘No combat role’ in Iraq: Binskin



Commandos make up the vast majority of Australian special forces sent to the Middle East but the chief of defence is adamant they will not be involved in combat against Islamic State extremists.

Air Chief Marshal Mark Binskin on Thursday outlined the role expected to be played by special forces advisers in Iraq, saying the 200-strong contingent is already on the ground in the United Arab Emirates.

The force is predominantly made up of commandos, supported by only a small number of elite SAS troops, Air Chief Marshall Binskin said.

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Special forces will be charged with an “assist and advise role” to local forces, should the government give the go-ahead on a deployment.

The advisers would be stationed at battalion headquarters, and would not be involved in independent combat operations.

While advisers may have to “move outside the wire”, the strategy was not to step in and fight the war for the Iraqis, he told reporters in Canberra.

“Battalion headquarters are not on the front line.

“The strategy here is to give … the Iraqi forces the wherewithal to do this themselves.”

Eight Super Hornets and 400 air personnel are also being deployed to the United Arab Emirates, in preparation for reconnaissance missions and airstrikes against IS.

Air Chief Marshall Binskin said air missions from the UAE would last eight to 10 hours, with crew orbiting for three or four hours before returning.

“It’s a big ask of our people but they are more than capable of being able to do those missions,” he said.

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