The Governor-General and Commander- in- Chief Major General Michael Jeffery has spent Christmas with Australian troops in Iraq.

His Excellency was on a four-day tour which included a visit to the Special Air Service Regiment troops in Afghanistan. Major General Jeffery is himself a former SASR commander.

“Looking every inch “ a soldier, as one television commentator described the Governor-General, he released a statement in which he said: "The ADF (Australian Defence Force) personnel on the ground, in the air and at sea serve with great professional skill and compassion." "Their work is hard in often inhospitable and dangerous conditions.

"They are dedicated ambassadors for Australia and I came away inspired and proud. They are the equal of anything I have seen in over 50 years of service with the ADF."

During the four-day trip, Major-General Jeffery visited the Al Muthanna Task Group in Iraq, the Special Forces Task Group in Afghanistan, the HMAS Parramatta in the northern Persian Gulf and also government representatives in Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.

Official defence force photographs show him wearing a helmet and traditional army fatigues during the visits to Iraq and Afghanistan. Five of these can be seen by clicking on “Related Coverage-Gallery G-G’s Tour of Duty” which accompanies The Age report 
on the visit.

The story was also covered by News Limited at http://dailytelegraph.news.com.au/story/0,20281,17664329-5001028,00.html

Major-General Jeffery said morale was high among troops, but urged Australians to continue supporting them.

"During this Christmas-New Year period, I encourage all Australians to think of our deployed servicemen and women serving overseas and to join me in wishing them every success and a safe return at the end of their respective deployments."

Major General Jeffery said he was privileged to join the troops of the 450-member Al Muthanna Task Group in southern Iraq for Christmas lunch.

He also flew by Air Force C-130 Hercules to visit the Australian Special Forces task group in Afghanistan.

He visited personnel operating Air Force AP-3C Orion maritime patrol aircraft over the Persian Gulf, the men and women aboard HMAS Parramatta in the northern Persian Gulf plus those providing their logistic support.

"All personnel I met are under superb command, well trained and well equipped for their vital and varied tasks," he said.

"During the Christmas-New Year period, I encourage all Australians to think of our deployed servicemen and women serving overseas and join me in wishing them every success and a safe return at the end of their respective deployments."

In the Middle East region, Major General Jeffery made state visits to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, meeting their leaders and other senior government representatives.

"I particularly welcome the increased people-to-people links between Australia, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates which can only strengthen the mutual understanding of our respective cultures," he said.

"I also look forward to the development of further linkages in areas such as trade, education, the increasing exchange of technical expertise and tourism, as well as the important strategic security relationship."