The Special Forces Task Group, initially made up of “up to 200 personnel” deployed in September 2014 was located initially at Al Minhad Air Base in the UAE.
No details of the make-up of the SOTG were released, but according to Paul Toohey of News Corporation, the SOTG is “under the leadership of the 2nd Commando Regiment“. The task group could include personnel from the units under the Army’s Special Operations Command, which mainly include the Special Air Service Regiment, the 1st and 2nd Commando Regiments, and Special Operations Engineer Regiment and the Special Operations Logistics Squadron.
In March 2015, the Australian government announced the deployment of a further 300 ground troops to train Iraqi security forces, which were to be based at al-Asad Air Base near al-Baghdadi in Anbar province.
After a long delay in securing a Status of Forces Agreement from the Iraqi Government, Vice-Admiral Johnston announced on 65 November that the SOTG would be based in Baghdad, operating primarily with Iraqi counter-terrorism forces.
“Working at the battalion headquarters, it is an advise and assist role. But they will carry weapons for self-defence purposes. And that would be the normal long arms or short arms that they would carry with them. And potentially depending on – we would evaluate, I mentioned those occasions where we may go to a forward operating base, we’ll do a risk evaluation of the circumstances at that base, and they may take heavier equipment with them, to be able to be used, to defend themselves if required. So very much dependant on where their partner force is operating and the risk levels associated with it. So we’re not on patrol with them in the sense of going out to engage directly with ISIL forces – that’s not what we’re there to do.”