US artillery officer wins Australian award during Task Group Taji assignment

An American officer serving with the combined Australia-New Zealand military training force in Iraq has been awarded an Australian bronze commendation on February 15 for his role in protecting coalition forces at Camp Taji in Iraq.

Second Lieutenant William Barron Thompson served dual roles at Camp Taji, Iraq, as Base Defence Operations Centre Officer in Charge and the aerial response force fire support officer.

His home unit is the 2nd Battalion, 8th Field Artillery Regiment, 125th Infantry Division out of Fort Wainwright, Alaska and while his unit did a good job preparing him for operations, he credited his time in Iraq with cutting his teeth in a coalition environment.

One of his assignments included being part of an aerial response force tasked to retrieve an AH-64D Apache attack helicopter that had lost power while over Iraq’s western Anbar in 2019 and had to make an emergency landing.

“We pulled security, slung it up and flew it to Al Assad Air Base by Chinook (heavy lift helicopter),” Second Lieutenant Thompson said.

He also reflected on working with the coalition partners at Taji, declaring that he “loved working with the Australians and New Zealanders – they’re easy to work with. They get the job done and it’s a lot of fun. They love what they do,” adding that “Task Group Taji opened my eyes to the strategic effects a coalition environment can have. It was a great place to enable operations to defeat Daesh.”

Task Group Taji is a combined Australian-New Zealand military training force located at the Taji Military Complex northwest of Baghdad, whose role is supporting an international effort to train and build the capacity of the regular Iraqi Security Forces (ISF), by partnering with the Iraqi Army School of Infantry Non-Commissioned Officer II to prepare Iraq’s junior military leaders.





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