War pay cut for ADF

Nick Butterly Canberra
Scaled back: An RAN boarding party in action in the Middle East. Picture: Michael Wilson/The West Australian

The Federal Government will slash allowances for Australian Defence Force personnel serving in the Middle East as it scales back operations in Afghanistan.

The move, expected to save the Commonwealth tens of millions of dollars over coming years, will cause anger among some ADF members, particularly those serving in anti-piracy operations off the Horn of Africa.

The West Australian has been told that from July 1, the Government will split its Middle East theatre of operations - now known as Operation Slipper - into three new theatres.

The small number of soldiers remaining in Afghanistan will continue to operate under what are classified as "warlike" conditions, while personnel stationed in naval operations in the region or in supporting roles in Dubai will not.

The change means personnel in Dubai or on navy ships in the region will lose the lucrative general allowance of between $125 and $200 a day as well as a field allowance of $56.36 a day and extra leave allowances.

Crucially, personnel not stationed in Afghanistan will also likely lose access to the Gold Pass health card, which grants holders taxpayer-funded health care for life.

The new allowance rate will come into effect from March 1.

Starting in the new financial year, operations in Afghanistan will continue to be carried out under the name Operation Slipper.

But counterpiracy in the Gulf of Aden will now be run under the name Operation Manitou.

Supporting missions in neighbouring Gulf states will be run under the name Operation Accordion.

Throughout the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, Australia has maintained bases in either Kuwait or Dubai to support operations in the region.

Australia pulled out of Oruzgan province in southern Afghanistan at the end of last year.

A small training group is likely to stay in Kabul for several years.