The Prime Minister is right when he says that Australia's escalating involvement in the Iraq conflict is nothing like 2003, when Australia joined the US-led invasion that toppled Saddam Hussein.
But if he means that Iraq 2014 somehow is less dangerous than it was 11 years ago, then that is not the case.
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Australia is taking sides in a 'civil war'
Tony Abbott must be wary of 'mission creep' after the Prime Minister announced weapons drops to assist groups fighting IS in Northern Iraq, says Paul McGeough.
In 2003, the Shiite majority and its various militias followed instructions from their spiritual leadership, to stay home and to leave it to Saddam's overrated military machine and the US-led foreign forces to deal with each other.
That was a brief battle in which Saddam's conventional forces collapsed without putting up much of a fight.
Subsequently, brutal Sunni al-Qaeda affiliates emerged, taking a more sinister fight to the foreign forces and to the new, US-trained and funded military of the Shiite-dominated government in Baghdad – and its ruthless unofficial militias.
But it's fair to say that today's battlefield is much more dangerous than anything we have seen previously in Iraq.
Perhaps the territory in play is smaller, but the horror being inflicted on the people is worse than anything seen previously.
And importantly, the balance of power has shifted to the insurgent Islamic State force (also known as ISIL).
In the absence of a powerful, high-tech foreign force, the new Iraqi national army has proved a bit of an embarrassment – for Baghdad and for Washington, which invested so much treasure and blood in setting it up.
Crazed by their own battlefield success and high on their ideology, ISIL forces have been sweeping aside the Baghdad military.
But the Peshmerga, the fighters of the northern Kurdish enclave that will break away from Iraq at the first opportunity, are a different breed.
The Peshmerga have been taking the fight to ISIL and it is the Peshmerga, not the Baghdad-controlled national army, that Australia will be supplying.
All of which means that ISIL will be more determined to engage the Peshmerga – and any force that is replenishing its supplies.
Consider the Abbott and Bishop descriptions of ISIL and the media accounts of their depraved conduct – the fate of any foreign serviceman they might capture doesn't bear thinking about.
Now consider what can go wrong on military missions, just because things do go wrong.
Washington obviously didn't plan to lose one of the choppers that went in to Abbottabad in Pakistan in pursuit of Osama Bin Laden in 2011, but good and all as the mission plan was, that's what happened.
The Bin Laden mission was a tense affair, but it was not in an area of combat.
Ditto the small Indonesian Island of Nias in 2005, when nine Australian service men died when a RAAF Sea King helicopter crashed while engaged on a humanitarian exercise in the aftermath of an earthquake – obviously that wasn't a part of the plan.
All of which is to say that no matter how good the pre-mission planning, accidents happen and the militias engaging conventional forces in a series of contemporary conflicts around the globe, get lucky regularly.
Consider the rate at which separatist rebels in the eastern Ukraine have been bringing down Ukrainian military aircraft – and in all probability, Malaysian Airways Flight MH17, in which 38 of the 298 victims were from Australia.
Consider how frequently the Taliban in Afghanistan have been able to infiltrate foreign military bases – either to destroy aircraft on the ground or to attack and kill foreign military personnel.
If Australian aircraft are flying in Iraqi airspace they are a target for ISIL and especially so if they are making low-altitude approaches to airfields – when ISIL is fully aware that they are laden with rocket-propelled grenades, mortars and small-arms ammunition.
And while the PKK, or the Kurdistan Workers' Party, which Australia and other Western countries have designated as a terrorist organisation, is unlikely to attempt to shoot an Australian aircraft out of the sky, if one were to make a belly landing on their turf, they'd likely fight to get their hands on the cargo.
None of this is to wish bad fortune on any Australians involved in the new Iraq exercise. But Tony Abbott's announcement of the stepping up the mission to include supplying arms and ammunition was a statement of just 11 lines – a mere 158 words. War demands more than that.
We have to consider the risks faced by Australian servicemen and to fully understand them, we need to talk about these ugly things.
The initial press release issued by Tony Abbott's office on Sunday morning. The Prime Minister held a press conference about the mission later that day.
INTERNATIONAL SUPPLY MISSION TO IRAQ
Australia will join international partners to help the anti-ISIL forces in Iraq.
Following the successful international humanitarian relief effort air-dropping supplies to the thousands of people stranded on Mount Sinjar in northern Iraq, the Royal Australian Air Force will now conduct further humanitarian missions.
The United States Government has requested that Australia help to transport stores of military equipment, including arms and munitions, as part of a multi-nation effort.
Royal Australian Air Force C-130 Hercules and C-17 Globemaster aircraft will join aircraft from other nations including Canada, Italy, France, the United Kingdom and the United States to conduct this important task.
Australia's contribution will continue to be coordinated with the government of Iraq and regional countries.
The situation in Iraq represents a humanitarian catastrophe.
Australia remains in close contact with the United States and other international partners and we will continue to work to alleviate the humanitarian situation in Iraq and address the security threat posed by ISIL.