From: Defence Media Centre
Date: Sat 11/05/2013 7:39 AM

Honour Distinction for Army Engineers’ Peacekeeping Operation

The Governor-General of Australia, Her Excellency, Ms Quentin Bryce AC CVO presented the Australian Army’s first Honour Distinction to 17 Construction Squadron today at a ceremonial parade at Steele Barracks, Holsworthy.

The Honour Distinction ‘Namibia 1989-90’ recognises the vital contribution of 17 Construction Squadron to the United Nations Transition Assistance Group (UNTAG) in the transition of Namibia to independence in 1990.

The Chief of Army, Lieutenant General David Morrison, AO said 17 Construction Squadron played a key role in the smooth and successful transition to democracy in Namibia.

“17 Construction Squadron performed a role well beyond what was expected of them,” Lieutenant General Morrison said.

“The Australian Army and wider Australian community are proud of their work, initiative and professionalism in a highly sensitive environment.”

The Australian Contingent of UNTAG comprised 613 personnel, the majority of whom were Army Engineers from 17 Construction Squadron, who were deployed to provide engineer support to the United Nations.

Despite being deployed to provide engineering support, when the cease-fire broke down at the start of the mission, 17 Construction Squadron helped establish assembly points before becoming involved in the election itself, providing security, transport and support to the election officials, monitors, other UN personnel, voters and polling stations.

The Honour Distinction for 17 Construction Squadron was recommended by the Army Battle Honours Committee who, recognising Australia’s commitment to peacekeeping operations amended the battle and theatre honours system to provide for the recognition of outstanding service in operations in other than declared theatres of war.

Under the new system, actions by units in non-war-like but still hazardous conditions, and actions by non-Arms Corps Units, can now be recognised by the award of an Honour Distinction.

The Honour Distinction ‘Namibia 1989-90’ is the first Australian Army honour to be awarded since the Vietnam War. Its awarding precedes the Battle Honour Eastern Shah Wali Kot, which is the first battle honour to be awarded since the Vietnam War.

The Honour Distinction ‘Namibia 1989-90’, follows the awarding of two commendations soon after the deployment, with a CGS Commendation presented to 17 Construction Squadron and to 15 Troop, 18 Field Squadron.

Imagery from the presentation of the Honour Distinction ‘Namibia 1989-90’ is available at http://images.defence.gov.au/12133781

A retrospective on the Honour Distinction ‘Namibia 1989-90’ is available at the following link: http://video.defence.gov.au/

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Defence Media Operations: 02 6127 1999