More Australian troops to train Iraqi army

Feb. 23, 2004 at 6:19 AM

SYDNEY, Feb. 23 (UPI) -- Australia will send more troops to help train Iraq's armed forces, joining some 800 troops already in the region, Defense Minister Robert Hill said Monday.

A contingent of 53 military personnel will be sent to Iraq in May to spend six months training three army battalions and their brigade headquarters staff in a full range of military and professional skills. Australian troops have already participated in training Iraq's first four army battalions.

Extra security personnel and two light armored vehicles will be deployed to protect the training base outside Baghdad, the minister said.

Hill said Australia would also replace its guided missile frigate, the HMAS Melbourne, with an Anzac class frigate, the HMAS Stuart, with the mission of securing Iraq's territorial waters, protecting offshore oil platforms, and preventing smuggling.

Australia supported the original coalition attack on Iraq with 2,000 troops, as well as air and naval support.

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