From: Defence Media Centre
Date: Tue 1/08/2013

The final rotation of Australian soldiers has returned home from Solomon Islands

The final rotation of Australian soldiers has returned home from Solomon Islands, following the completion of the Australian Defence Force’s military contribution to the Regional Assistance Mission to Solomon Islands (RAMSI).

About 100 soldiers from Rotation 30, which was predominately made up of Reservists from the Army’s Victoria-based 4th Brigade, were welcomed home today by family and friends at a parade at Simpson Barracks. The soldiers, including a contingent from the Tongan Defence Force, spent four months in Solomon Islands after deploying on Operation ANODE at the end of March 2013.

Welcoming the soldiers home was the Parliamentary Secretary for Defence and Senator for Victoria, David Feeney.

“Today is about welcoming our troops back home. They have served our nation well and for their service and sacrifice we are all grateful,” Senator Feeney said.

“Their job was an important one: to support the Royal Solomon Islands Police Force and the Participating Police Force in providing security and stability for the people of Solomon Islands. The withdrawal of our military component of RAMSI shows the improvement in the security environment over the past ten years and our work with our Pacific neighbours have helped bring peace and stability to Solomon Islands.

“Travelling to Solomon Islands only last week with the Chief of the Defence Force, General David Hurley, we got to see the security improvements first-hand. Speaking with the troops there it was clear that the ADF is leaving the Solomon Islands in a vastly more stable security environment than existed ten years ago.

“However, this is isn’t the end of RAMSI. Work will continue with the Royal Solomon Islands Police Force and the nation’s institutions to ensure lasting stability for the people of the Solomon Islands,” Senator Feeney said.

More than 7,000 Australian soldiers have deployed over the past ten years. Of those about 2,100 were Reservists.

The Commander of the Army’s 2nd Division, Major General Steve Smith, AM, CSC, RFD, said he was proud of the soldiers’ efforts during a demanding deployment.

“Throughout your mission, you have embodied the Army’s core values of Courage, Initiative, Respect and Teamwork,” Major General Smith said.

“You have done much to enhance the reputation of the 2nd Division in particular, and the Australian Defence Force more broadly,” he said.

The Commander of the Army’s 4th Brigade, Brigadier Michael Annett, CSC, ADC, said the soldiers’ deployment, along with previous 4th Brigade rotations in 2007 and 2010, had played a significant role in supporting the return to normal life for Solomon Islanders.

“Security in the Solomon Islands and the ability of its government to re-establish law and order and build public confidence has improved markedly since the ADF first arrived to assist in restoring public order,” Brigadier Annett said.

“Soldiers from the 4th Brigade have played an important part in that process, you should be very proud of the part you have played in this operation.”

The Officer Commanding Rotation 30, Captain David Manzin, said his troops could look back on a job well done.

“It is important that we recognise the support of all of our families, and our civilian employers. Without having their backing for the past six months of training and during the deployment we simply could not have done this,” Captain Manzin said.

The Australian Defence Force support to RAMSI ceased on 1 July 2013.

A Defence element has remained in the Solomon Islands to prepare military equipment to return to Australia. The Australian-led Combined Task Force 635 has included rotations of Defence Force personnel from New Zealand, Tonga and Papua New Guinea.

Imagery of Senator Feeney and General Hurley speaking with soldiers in Honiara is available from the Defence Image Library.