Change of command in Middle East region 28 July

Department of Defence

Rear Admiral Michael Rothwell, AM, RAN has handed command of Australian Defence Force operations in the Middle East to Air Commodore David Paddison, CSC.

The transfer of authority took place during a ceremony at Australia’s main logistics and support base in the region on 27 July 2021.

Rear Admiral Rothwell, who took command of Joint Task Force 633 on 25 November 2020, said the opportunity to lead Australian forces at this level was a career highlight.

“It has been an honour and a privilege to lead such a professional, dedicated, respectful and loyal team of sailors, soldiers, aviators and Defence civilians,” Rear Admiral Rothwell said.

“I have been inspired by the teams’ resilience and adaptability despite the many challenges faced during my tenure, all of which were complicated by COVID-19.

“Our contributions across the Middle East have been significant and meaningful and Australians should feel very proud of what their service women and men continue to achieve here far from home.”

During his eight month tenure, Rear Admiral Rothwell oversaw the end of Australia’s contribution to the International Maritime Security Construct and the withdrawal of ADF personnel and equipment from Afghanistan in line with the US and NATO.

Air Commodore Paddison will now take the Australian National Command responsibility for all ADF personnel and Defence civilians in operations across the Middle East.

“It’s a great privilege to command JTF 633 whilst Australian forces undertake a significant change,” Air Commodore Paddison said.

“Our Middle East force posture demonstrates our ongoing commitment to the region, whilst we refocus ADF planning and resources to the Indo-Pacific.

“I thank Rear Admiral Rothwell for his calm and considered leadership of the Task Force. I look forward to continuing this legacy as we work with our Host Nation and coalition forces to ensure security and stability of the region.”

Imagery of the ceremony will be available at: images.defence.gov.au/S20212311

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