Talk:Australian contribution to the 2003 invasion of Iraq

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earlier comments[edit]

I removed the entry abotu the withdrawal of troops, John howard in each successive media statement says explicity Australian troops will remain in Iraq for as long as they are needed. Mark Latham on the other hand, wanted the troops home by Christmas 2004. Mark Latham's policy release was on March 23rd, 2004. Please provide a source for John Howards "cut & run approach" of the war in Iraq. Aside from the mistake....Great Entry! ~ Benjamin17

Interesting entry. Only main problem is that it's written in the current tense. Much better to use the "As of X date, ... was..." form, since that can be revised/edited much more easily later. --The Cunctator

Thanks Cunc. I guess you are right. I've been focussed on getting the context in without veering way off track, and on making it as NPOV as I can. No prizes for guessing that I'm a historian at heart - I'm not used to writing about current stuff, and haven't got the hang of it yet! Back to Napoleon for me next week— it's easier. :) Tannin

I agree...I want to reiterate that it's a really interesting entry. You could even submit it to kuro5hin, etc. if you wanted. --The Cunctator

--- A great entry. I would nitpick and point out the Australian Army operations in Iraq fell under the rubric of Operation Catalyst while RAN operations were called Operation Bastille. Only the RAAF effort was called Operation Falconer. Paul, in Saudi

Sorry PaulinSaudi but that is not correct. Bastille was the name for all ADF Ops in Iraq prior to hostilities on 18/19 March 03, Falconer for all ADF Ops during Hostilities, and Catalyst from the 'end of combat opserations'(read post the invasion) in 2003. Krait 08:33, 13 April 2006 (UTC)

Australia has a standing force of about 53,000 combined services. The US has 1.4 million active soldiers, 700,000 National Guard, and 700,000 reserve. As National Guard is a defensive force which the Australian military has to carry sole responsibility for.

53,000 Aust. to 2,100,000 US regular troops.
Percentage wise US 3.2% GDP, UK 2.3%, Aust. 1.9%

Next what were they doing? the SAS were already 3 or 5 hundred kilometres inside Iraq on day one. The navy was actively intercepting Iraqi mine attempts. The Air Force was flying real missions and without shooting Americans down. They were providing real military combat services. I think the article could do with a review. From memory didn't one of our pilots get some dirty US looks for canceling a mission when he decided he couldn't reliably isolate the intended target, as per his Aust. orders accuracy in avoiding civilians had top priority. Daeron

I agree, this could use a review. For one thing, the first section reads like a bunch of propaganda. Given, I doubt politicians do anything much for un-selfish reasons, but geez, don't you think it's possible that we're sending people to Iraq because we *believe* in it, and not just for some selfish reason? I bet the troops themselves would tell you, they're there to help out and make things better for people, not as some kind of stunt. I certainly hope that my tax money isn't being spent and fellow countrymen aren't risking their lives for something as hollow as this article makes it sound. I hope the average Iraqi, middle-easterner, and ultimately everyone benefits from this, even if some unpleasant things have happened. It's war, I don't expect it to be pretty, but I do hope the people on the ground are doing the right thing.

If there's any criticism to be levelled, I'd blast John Howard for his failure to do anything diplomatic at all. Licking American boot is not what I'd call diplomacy. I think he should be asking Bush some tough questions - such as why we should continue helping them when they are doing things which could tarnish our reputation as allies, and then not taking proper action to rectify the situation. Nvinen 15:21, 24 Feb 2005 (UTC)

Mate, if we had "believed" in it, we would have sent enough of a force to make an actual difference. We didn't. That's the whole point: practically everyone else made a major boots-n-all commitment (US, UK) - or avoided sending combat troops (Japan, most of Europe). Australia managed to do neither. That makes the whole matter of Australia's involvement a very interesting one. When was the last time we did that? Have we ever done that before? I cannot think of another involvement like it. Tannin 11:51, 28 Feb 2005 (UTC)
Here are some figures from the Korean War (source: Keep Off the Skyline, The Story of Ron Cashman and the Diggers in Korea, with some creative estimation where no figures were provided):
Total troops involved throughout the war for all sites, approx:
  • Australia - 11 600 army, 6000 navy, 1115 air force. 339 killed, total.
  • Total for Commonwealth - no figures, at a guess 50 000 men total, 1263 killed
  • USA - total 1 300 000 men. 33 629 killed
  • South Korea - no figures, at a guess 2 000 000 men, 415 000 killed
  • China and North Korea - no figures, at a guess 3 000 000 men, 1 500 000 killed
Keep in mind that of the 11 600 army personnel sent, only about a third (3RAR) arrived towards the beginning of the war. A second regiment was sent later, and yet another later. So the initial commitment of ground forces would have been around 4000 men. This is certainly more than we've sent to Iraq, but there were a lot more troops in the Korean theatre. Proportional to the number of American troops involved, we would have had to send about 800 army personnel to Iraq to equal our commitment at the beginning of the Korean war. I'm not sure of the exact number but I don't think this is so far off.
I'll leave this at that, I have some work to do, but I think it's an interesting comparison. We could probably also dredge up figures from Vietnam, I'd be interested to see how they compare too. My point is that Australia doesn't have a huge military and we never seem to commit large numbers of troops except for during World Wars, which is typically when our own country is being threatened directly. Nvinen 14:59, 28 Feb 2005 (UTC)

I personally know people from the RAR deployed to Iraq, they all said the worst part was how they were effectively ordered to AVOID combat no matter what was happening to Iraqi and Coalition Forces there. They were a token, nothing more, just like our contribution to the first Gulf War. The SFTG was the ONLY real contribution the ADF made. As for the Europeans, Italy lost 33 personnel in Iraq, Poland lost 23 and Ukraine lost 18, Australia lost two, neither in combat. El Salvador lost five to put it in perspective for you. Some other mighty military powers who sustained greater losses than Australia in Iraq include Latvia and Slovakia. To be honest I don't even see why this has a page all to itself, there should be a "minor coalition partners in Iraq" page or something to that effect.-- (talk) 11:41, 30 May 2012 (UTC)

I've just added a few more details about the structure of the special forces task group and added my sources for this to the list.

IMO, this page greatly over-states the possibility that F-111 aircraft could have been deployed - to the best of my knowledge, this was never seriously considered, and there was no real "debate". In addition, I've seen no suggestion that Australia's EP-3 aircraft were deployed (Janes' reports we have two along with an EC-130H), and given that they're vital to Austrlia's intelligence gathering capabilities I greatly doubt that they would have been sent into harms way, especially as the standard AP-3 aircraft have a useful SIGINT capability. --Nick Dowling 09:43, 10 November 2005 (UTC)

A Note about Orions[edit]

From the info I have, have read, there is one upgraded Elint/Signit Orion, probably similar to US Aries II Configuration, this info fits with the AP3-C Upgrade where not the full number of planes were upgraded. Although it would fit that Australia sent their Elint P3-C to use in Iraq, where is the evidence, or even evidence of 'widely reported'.

There may be one other 'secret' elint/signit plane in the Australian arsenal, and that is a Elint/Signit Hercules, upgraded C130-H model, done in the late 1990s as part of the upgrade of the EWSP suite of four H models, the costs associated with this upgrade seem to fit with the idea a bit more was done than said. This has been reported in the Journal of Electronic Defense (as has the one EP3-C upgrade). It is possible that one of these planes was sent to Iraq but who knows.

So perhaps a 'bit more source' on the Elint P3-C orion is needed.


Benjamin Harrow

2003 Gulf War commitments relative to population[edit]

As an Aussie I am a little embarrassed by the fact we feel we need this table. Why? So what? How about the alternate view: compare total KIA with commitment. Thankfully our war KIA is zero (so far), but the US and UK KIA numbers show a far different story. This table is frankly a bit of an insult IMO. Krait 08:47, 13 April 2006 (UTC)

As an Aussie I disagree. The basic fact is that Australia's commitment to the war was very small in comparison to the commitment made by the US and UK, even when the small size of the Australian Defence Force is factored in. At the end of the day, Australia's commitment was more political than military and the Australian force contributed very little towards winning the war in 2003. --Nick Dowling 11:17, 13 April 2006 (UTC)
I was reading the table the other way - ie a table to prove how 'big' our committment was based on population etc. Relevant for Aus commitment in WWI and maybe WWII but not here. Whilst I agree wholeheartedly that the size of the commitment was small (very small), the impact in the large SOA in the western desert along the main highway from Baghdad to Jordan was quite large - potentially preventing Israel from entering into the war. Of course none of us were to know that there weren't actually any SCUDs. Yes it maybe could have been done by another US SF or UK SF unit, however the so called tier 1 units were all in use in other SOAs. Still think its better to just state we had a very small commitment and get rid of the table. won't die in a ditch over it though. Krait 08:49, 19 April 2006 (UTC)
This quantitative 'debate' is pretty pathetic and penile. Even if Australia did send its entire Army ~25,000 it's still a piss poor amount. PS: There appears to be many covert anti-war/Howard/whatever in this topic - Htra0497 17:16 25th May 2006 (AET)

F111 debate?[edit]

I think the whole section on the F111 debate looks like original research and therefore should be removed WP:NOR. I also question if this really belongs here? The article is about the contribution and almost a quarter of the article is about an aircraft that did not participate. The whole section is an unreferenced controversy that I suspect may only be important to F111 pilots. You could for example write a whole section on similar lines about why the Australian Leopard Tanks didn't go instead of LAV25s? I feel it adds little to learning what the Australian contribution actually was. Greynurse 01:16, 24 April 2006 (UTC)

I agree. It deserves no more than a few sentences. --Robert Merkel 03:33, 24 April 2006 (UTC)
Agreed. I don't think that it was original research though - I read an article at the time which discussed pretty much the same issues. The 'debate' was pretty non-existant though and I agree with removing it from this article. --Nick Dowling 19:46, 25 April 2006 (UTC)

Australian's Killed/Wounded[edit]

It seems to me that the line "No Australian personnel were killed, wounded or taken prisoner during the war." is incorrect. The Multinational force in Iraq page lists Australian casualties and injuries as follows:

"In January 2005, eight Australian soldiers were wounded, two seriously, in an ambush on the road to Baghdad International Airport. One Australian private military contractor was ambushed and killed along with a British and American counterpart in mid-2005; with another killed by a roadside bomb in June 2006. On November 7, 2005, an Australian soldier was killed in a traffic accident while training in Kuwait for Iraq duty. On April 21, 2006, an Australian soldier died after accidentally shooting himself, although this report has been challenged. For more information see Jacob Kovco. The independent Australian force in southern Iraq will remain in the country until at least late 2007[16]. Australian journalist Paul Moran was killed in a car bombing in March 2003, while another was killed five months later when an RPG struck the US military vehicle he was in."

Perhaps we can update this article to reflect that. In the meantime i have removed this line... Smartaalec 05:55, 18 June 2006 (UTC)

The line was in reference to the "major combat operations" phase of the war and I've reverted your edit as this is an important point. I have added a couple of sentances about subsequent Australian military casualties in Iraq. I personally don't think that the deaths of Australian security guards or journalists fits into this article as the individuals were not in the country due to the "Australian contribution to the 2003 invasion of Iraq". --Nick Dowling 08:44, 18 June 2006 (UTC)

About motivations for war[edit]

I felt that this section was biased and defended Howard: for example, it said that the 'deputy sheriff to the US' claim was wrongly attributed, and was only used by a few media commentators. Other politicians and even scholars have used this term to describe Howard. As there is a lot of debate over whether Howard is like a 'deputy sheriff' or not, it is wrong to just say one way or the other. 01:44, 24 October 2006 (UTC)

The reason we went to war is to secure American goodwill against future Asian aggression. That's not theory, it's fact. Befriending a superpower has been the sole focus of Australian foreign policy for the last two hundred years. Any Australian student who takes History knows that. Battle Ape 18:10, 5 November 2006 (UTC)

I'm an Australian who minored in history and majored in poltical science and I don't 'know' or agree with that. Australian foreign policy is much more complex than just sucking up to the great power of the day. --Nick Dowling 09:46, 6 November 2006 (UTC)

Though it does involve a lot of sucking up for the moment. Goldfishsoldier 08:03, 8 January 2007 (UTC)

The deputy sherriff comment has now been expanded and referenced to reflect that Howard did not say it but also did not deny he said it when it was wrongly attributed to him. Wayne 04:36, 11 October 2007 (UTC)

Needs a review - bad stats[edit]

The section on proportional contribution reflects erroneous statistics statistics in the it compares apples with oranges - comparison with actual military size is the only potentially valid comparison point (ADFs are freely available from the Defence website) - and even to do so would be heavily flawed - for eg it doesn't take into account military funding per gpd, 'deployable' proportions of the forces, and other committements (including Australian Defence as was mentioned by another reader). The section is logically biased and assumes that the equall committment must equal equivalent numbers of troops etc, it assumes that the most appropriate role of Aus personnel was to parallel what the other two forces were doing and does not consider how the skills, capabilities and priorities of the different military forces fit together. I originally wrote a more extended crtique on other elements - and then lost it - but the objectivity of the document needs work. The article needs a review and that table should really go. —The preceding unsigned comment was added by I get cranky at bad stats (talkcontribs) 22:07, 16 April 2007 (UTC).

Sorry - forgot to sign the above I get cranky at bad stats 22:08, 16 April 2007 (UTC) I hate bad stats and logic April 16 2007

You are right and I believe the table is irrelevant. If you check the next section it says: "The quality of training and equipment and determination of the force (Australian contribution) allows it to have a disproportionate influence for its size." The reference for that statement is a United States House of Representatives committee report. Wayne 04:32, 11 October 2007 (UTC)

Fair use rationale for Image:AMTG.jpg[edit]

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BetacommandBot (talk) 04:25, 12 February 2008 (UTC)


I removed this text and reference from the John Howard article:

On 22 February 2005 Howard announced that Australia would increase its military commitment to Iraq with an additional 450 troops, telling John Laws, "I’m openly saying that some small adjustment at the margin might happen".[1]

Perhaps one of the editors of this article can use it? --Surturz (talk) 10:13, 31 May 2008 (UTC)

Total cost to defence[edit]

Would someone be able to add information detailing the total cost of Operation Catalyst to the Australian government? Lawrencema (talk) 01:36, 12 December 2008 (UTC)

This information is in the various Defence annual reports which are available online at Nick-D (talk) 07:28, 12 January 2009 (UTC)