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February 9, 2017
Sgt Dave Morley
THE training that Task Group
Taji has provided the Iraqi Army
over the past 20 months has
given them enormous confidence
confidence in their equipment,
their tactics, techniques and
procedures, and confidence in
their team, according to Col Ash
Deputy Chief of Staff, Army
Headquarters COL Collingburn,
who received a DSM in the
Australia Day Honours List, was
CO Training Task Unit, Task
Group Taji One in Iraq from April
15-December 3, 2015.
He said the award recognised a
team, not just an individual.
“It is humbling to know the
efforts of so many good people
around me have contributed to this
individual recognition,” he said.
COL Collingburn said the
Army had a proud history of
training Iraqi soldiers through the
Australian Army Training Team –
Iraq (AATT-I) back in the 2000s.
“Many of the soldiers we
trained were aware of that history
and some shared accounts of being
trained by Australians,” he said.
“Australian soldiers are pro-
fessional and mission-focused,
yet respectful and friendly. Our
approach to soldiering resonates
with the Iraqi soldiers.”
COL Collingburn said the
training had helped enable the
Iraqi Army to re-capture Ramadi
“I don’t think that would have
been possible without coalition
He added the Iraqi Army
would continue to need Australia’s
help as further attrition occurred
throughout the Mosul offensive,
and as Iraqi divisions transitioned
from offensive operations back to
“Long-term, a professional,
well-trained Iraqi Army is essen-
tial to protect Iraq’s borders and
territory from external interfer-
ence,” he said.
“Daesh continues to present
a global terror threat and the risk
is, that after its fighting force is
defeated militarily, it will transi-
tion back to guerrilla warfare,
reconstitute and return under a
new name in the future.”
Col Collingburn was in Iraq on
April 25, 2015, and took part in a
dawn service to commemorate the
Centenary of Anzac.
He said it was a tremendous
privilege to be deployed alongside
Australian and New Zealand ser-
vice personnel on that day.
“As then CO 2/14 LHR (QMI),
a unit with two separate bat-
tle honours from the Gallipoli
Campaign, it was extra special,”
Col Collingburn joined the
Army in February 1993.
Cpl Max Bree
SGT Rod Leece just finished his third year as a land
intelligence instructor when a fancy envelope arrived in
“I got a letter late last year from the Governor-General’s
office saying I was being considered for an award; then I
got another one that said I was being awarded it,” he said.
The letter broke the news a Conspicuous Service Medal
was headed his way for “meritorious devotion to duty as an
instructor within the Defence Force School of Intelligence”.
“It came out of the blue, it was unexpected and hum-
bling considering the environment I work in,” he said.
Sgt Leece’s team is responsible for training the next
generation of intelligence soldiers on IET along with pro-
motion and officer courses.
“It’s long hours and it’s a big commitment,” he said.
“The tempo has increased a lot because the Army is now
screaming out for trained intelligence people.
“Trainees come in knowing nothing and after eight
weeks you’ve seen them grow, it’s very rewarding to be a
“You talk to them afterwards and you can tell they’ve
picked up what you’ve taught them.”
In the weeks after receiving his award, Sgt Leece is still
unclear on the exact reasons he was nominated.
“The people who recommended me have moved on so I
haven’t had the chance to ask them about it,” he said.
“I think it’s an accumulation of my work over the last
“I’m just proud to do a job I love and be surrounded
by people I respect. To be singled out for an award is very
Sgt Leece works with a team of about 20 others running
land intelligence courses.
“I think they’ve been pretty proud of me; the award is a
good recognition of what we do.” he said.
Cpl Brendan George, of Task Group Taji 4, explains the ‘basic drill’ to an Iraqi Security Forces training audience at Taji
Military Complex, Iraq.
Photo: Cpl Kyle Jenner
Lt-Col Ash Collingburn received a DSM in the Australia
Day Honours List.
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