A contingent of Australia’s elite SAS soldiers has been farewelled from the regiment’s home base in Perth, the day after 350 army and navy personnel left Sydney for the Gulf aboard the transport ship HMAS Kanimbla.
About 150 SAS troops and their families said private goodbyes at the SAS base Campbell Barracks, where the troops were addressed by Defence Minister Robert Hill and Defence Chief Peter Cosgrove.
The media was kept outside the highly-secured facility for the private ceremony, and a Defence spokesman would not reveal how many civilian wellwishers were inside the barracks.
However, soldiers were not restricted in the numbers of relatives they could have at the function.
The Defence service would not reveal precisely when the SAS contingent, similar in number to that sent to Afghanistan, would be leaving.
Senator Hill and General Cosgrove were due to address the media shortly.
The troop farewells come as opinion polls show most Australians are opposed to the federal government’s decision to send troops to the Gulf as part of any US-led military action.