Minister for Defence Stephen Smith welcomed yesterday’s successful conclusion of the Australian Defence Force’s (ADF) support to the Regional Assistance Mission to Solomon Islands (RAMSI).
The conclusion of the Combined Task Force's mission will see Australian personnel and equipment be progressively withdrawn over the coming months. All ADF personnel are scheduled to return to Australia by the end of September.
The New Zealand Defence Force, Tongan Defence Service and Papua New Guinea Defence Force personnel will also be withdrawn as the Combined Task Force completes its mission.
There are approximately 135 ADF personnel currently deployed to Operation ANODE of which 113 form the basis of the Combined Task Force (CTF) with the remaining 22 personnel contributing to the Force Extraction Team.
Five ADF personnel will remain in the Solomon Islands following the withdrawal of Operation ANODE personnel including a Defence Attaché and four personnel who will oversee the Defence Cooperation Program.
As part of a multi-national effort, ADF equipment, vehicles and other items will be transported to Australia onboard HMNZS Canterbury in mid-August. Some equipment and materiel will be disposed of in-country by the end of August. Final details of this disposal process are yet to be confirmed.
HMNZS Canterbury will transport about 20 vehicles and 10 containers of ADF equipment to Australia.
In the 10 years since Australia, New Zealand and the governments of the Pacific Islands Forum responded to the deteriorating security situation in Solomon Islands, RAMSI has presented itself as a model for multi-lateral security and capacity building.
The deployment of a military force with the purpose of providing security and logistic support to the Participating Police Forces enabled the Australian-led RAMSI mission to rapidly restore order to Solomon Islands.
RAMSI has provided a safe and secure environment for the people of Solomon Islands and its government. This has allowed the Participating Police Force to help build the capabilities of the Royal Solomon Islands Police Force.
Key to RAMSI's success has been the Combined Task Force, which has been led by the Australian Defence Force and included contributions from New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Tonga and, initially, Fiji.
Today, security and stability in Solomon Islands is well established. The military support mission to RAMSI is no longer required and the work of the Combined Task Force can conclude.
Approximately 7270 Australian personnel from all three Services have deployed to Operation ANODE since 2003. Of that number, about 2112 of those people have been from Australian Army Reserve units.
While the Australian Defence Force and the personnel of the New Zealand, Tongan and Papua New Guinea Defence Forces are returning home, Australia’s support to the people of Solomon Islands continues.
The Australian Federal Police will remain to continue strengthening the capacity of the Royal Solomon Islands Police Force. RAMSI’s civilian components will transfer to other donors, primarily Australia’s bilateral aid program, the Australia-Solomon-Islands Partnership for Development.
As the 2013 Defence White Paper makes clear, Australia remains committed to a safe and stable Pacific region.
Accordingly, Australia’s Defence relationship with Solomon Islands will be enhanced further through joint interoperability exercises, the conduct of explosive ordnance disposal operations, and the continuation of the Pacific Patrol Boat program.
As always, Australia stands ready to help its neighbours whenever natural disasters and humanitarian crises occur.
Imagery is available at: http://images.defence.gov.au/S20130532
Minister Smith’s Office: Andrew Porter (02) 6277 7800 or 0419 474 392
Defence Media Operations (02) 6127 1999