Overwatch Battle Group (West)

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Overwatch Battle Group (West)
Overwatch Battle Group (West) personnel in April 2007
Overwatch Battle Group (West) personnel in April 2007
BranchAustralian Army
SizeOver 500 personnel
HeadquartersTallil Air Base
EngagementsIraq War

Overwatch Battle Group (West) was an Australian Army battlegroup that represented Australia's largest contribution to the Multinational force in Iraq. The Battle Group was established in July 2006 and was based at Tallil Airbase in Dhi Qar Governorate, consisting of units previously assigned to the third, and final, rotation of the Al Muthanna Task Group. It was withdrawn in June 2008.


Upon its formation Overwatch Battle Group (West) consisted of units which were previously assigned to the third, and final, rotation of the Al Muthanna Task Group, following the handover of Camp Smitty to Iraqi Forces in July 2006.[1][2] The Battle Group formed part of Multi-National Division (South-East). An additional 38 personnel and four Bushmaster protected mobility vehicles were deployed in late 2006 to increase the size of the force to over 500 soldiers supported by 40 ASLAVs and 19 Bushmasters.[3] Total Australian strength in southern Iraq rose to over 500 personnel.[4]

Overwatch Battle Group (West)'s main role was to provide support to Iraqi Security Forces in a crisis if requested by the Iraqi Government and the Multi-National Force – Iraq. Whilst it was never called upon to act in this role, the Battle Group did conduct combat and security operations within the cities of An Nasiriyah and As Samawah, the provincial capitals of Dhi Qar and Al Muthana respectively, extensive patrolling within rural areas and on Main Supply Routes (MSRs) to counter the indirect fire and improvised explosive device threat, training and mentoring of the Iraqi Army and Police, support to strike operations undertaken by United States Special Forces, and construction and re-construction work. The Battle Group's training team was responsible for providing basic training to Iraqi Army personnel at the Basic Training Centre in Tallil.[4]

During the four rotations of the deployment, the battle group took part in a number of engagements, including the Battle of Al Rumaythah, which occurred on 26 September 2006 and involved OBG(W) 1,[5][6] and the Battle of Route Bismarck, involving OBG(W) 2 over the period 23–24 April 2007.[7] As the Labor Party led by Kevin Rudd pledged in the 2007 election, Australian combat forces began withdrawing from Iraq on 1 June 2008.[8] and the Overwatch Battle Group (West) and Australian Army Training Team formally ceased combat operations on the 2 June 2008.[9][10] No Australian military personnel were killed in the course of the deployment, during which the Australian contingent helped train 33,000 Iraqi soldiers. Approximately 200 Australian personnel remained in Iraq on logistical and air surveillance duties after its withdrawal.[11]


An Australian cavalry scout in Iraq during October 2007



  1. ^ "Australian Troops Depart Camp Smitty". Media Release: Department of Defence. Australian Government, Department of Defence. 28 July 2006. Retrieved 9 March 2014.
  2. ^ Horner (2008), pp. 335–336.
  3. ^ Nelson, Brendan (4 September 2006). "Additional Troops for Operation Overwatch". Media Release: Minister for Defence. Australian Government. Archived from the original on 11 March 2007. Retrieved 9 March 2014.
  4. ^ a b Horner (2008), p. 336.
  5. ^ Noonan, Gerard, Skehan, Craig and Desmond O'Grady, "Australian Troops Close Shave in Iraq Firefight", The Sydney Morning Herald, 29 September 2006.
  6. ^ Wright, Lincoln. "Diggers Kill Five in Iraq Battle", The Sunday Mail, 8 October 2006.
  7. ^ "Combat Ops Iraq: OP CATALYST JTF-633 IRAQ". Australian and New Zealand Defender Magazine. Brisbane Market: Fullbore Magazines (58): 42–46. Winter 2007. ISSN 1322-039X.
  8. ^ "Australia withdraws troops from Iraq". Reuters. 1 June 2008. Retrieved 1 June 2008.
  9. ^ "Cessation of ADF Operations in Southern Iraq". Defence news: 2 June – 8 June 2008. Australian Government, Department of Defence. Retrieved 9 March 2014.
  10. ^ "Topic Galleries - chicagotribune.com". Chicago Tribune.
  11. ^ " Australia ends Iraq combat role", BBC News, 2 June 2008
  12. ^ Hetherington, Andrew (18 May 2006). "AMTG3 preparations complete: Next rotation to Al Muthanna Province". Army: The Soldiers' Newspaper. Volume 11 (No. 43). Department of Defence. Archived from the original on 5 February 2012. Retrieved 9 March 2014.
  13. ^ a b c "Battle Group Rotations". Nautilus Institute. Retrieved 9 March 2014.
  14. ^ "Operations in Iraq: Details of British and Coalition forces". Ministry of Defence (UK).
  15. ^ Brooke, Michael (17 May 2007). "Farewell for troops deploying to Iraq". Army: The Soldiers' Newspaper (1166). Department of Defence. Archived from the original on 7 June 2008. Retrieved 9 March 2014.


Further reading[edit]

  • Wahlert, Glenn (2015). Anzac Cove to Afghanistan: The History of the 3rd Brigade. Sydney, New South Wales: Big Sky Publishing. ISBN 9781925275551.