Defence Force moves troops from Iraq and Afghanistan as coronavirus spreads

The Defence Force will move troops from Iraq and Afghanistan temporarily as it tries to limit the spread of COVID-19.

Defence Minister Linda Reynolds on Monday said non-essential Australian Defence Force personnel would move to Australia's main logistics base in the Middle East.

Those personnel close to finishing their operational duties would return to Australia, she said.

"This temporary measure is to preserve the safety of our people and partners, and to limit the spread of COVID-19 in operational areas," Senator Reynolds said.

"There will be no impact to the force-protection of ADF personnel remaining in Iraq and Afghanistan."

The COVID-19 pandemic has forced training missions to be suspended in the two countries.

Australia would continue to review its defence force posture and resume training in the region when it was safe to do so, Senator Reynolds said.

Details relating to the number of Australian defence personnel to be relocated were not available for operational security reasons, she said.

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Senator Reynolds earlier on Monday said the defence force would support the national response to COVID-19 by deploying more personnel to help state and territory health authorities.

Defence force personnel are working in the Victorian, Queensland, Northern Territory and Western Australian state coordination centres, and additional teams are ready to assist other states and territories.

The defence force is also establishing contact tracing support teams in all states and territories.

Senator Reynolds said the defence force would assist with logistics, transport, health and general planning as the workload of civilian medical teams continued to grow as more Australians were diagnosed with COVID-19.

The Defence Department on Friday said it was keeping its civilian staff safe while preventing disruption to its work by increasing remote working, and through rostering arrangements and physical separation of employees.

"These are in addition to other sensible work practices, such as increased use of telephone and video conferencing, and structuring management teams to ensure contingency in the event of a confirmed or suspected case," a spokesperson said.

  • For information on COVID-19, please go to the federal Health Department's website.
  • You can also call the Coronavirus Health Information Line on 1800 020 080
  • If you have serious symptoms, such as difficulty breathing, call Triple Zero (000)

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Non-essential Australian Defence Force personnel will move temporarily from Iraq and Afghanistan in a bid to limit the spread of COVID-19. Picture: The Department of Defence

Non-essential Australian Defence Force personnel will move temporarily from Iraq and Afghanistan in a bid to limit the spread of COVID-19. Picture: The Department of Defence

This story Defence Force moves troops from Iraq and Afghanistan as coronavirus spreads first appeared on The Canberra Times.