ADF Duty in Sierra Leone Upgraded to Warlike Service - 16 Aug 2007

MINASSIST 043/2007

Australian Defence Force personnel who served in Sierra Leone from 2001 to 2003 now have their service recognised as 'warlike', Minister Assisting the Minister for Defence Bruce Billson announced today.

A total of 17 ADF personnel served on the operation, code named Operation Husky, which was the Australian contribution to the International Military Advisory and Training Team (IMATT) formed to provide direct military advice and training assistance to the then new Sierra Leone Ministry of Defence and the Republic of Sierra Leone Armed Forces.

"The operational environment and nature of service for Operation Husky have been reviewed and the Government has agreed that a retrospective declaration of 'warlike' service was warranted for the deployment," Mr Billson said.

"Service in Sierra Leone had previously been classified as 'non-warlike' and this change in deployment status will provide greater recognition and enhanced ongoing support for those who served.

"The original decision to classify the operation as non-warlike was taken because ADF personnel were to operate only in Freetown and its environs. As the operation progressed, ADF personnel were required to operate throughout the southern region of Sierra Leone.

"This resulted in a change to the previously designated area of operations, the level of threat and risk to ADF personnel. As a result the reclassification of service is justified."

Mr Billson said that Operation Husky veterans may now be eligible for additional home loan assistance and will be awarded the Australian Active Service Medal. They will also receive the DVA Gold Card at age 70, with access to free and comprehensive health care in addition to their existing entitlements and benefits.

Veterans will also have access to a Service Pension at age 60, five years earlier than the age pension from Centrelink. If any veterans are unable to work through injury sustained during the deployment they may be entitled to immediate access to the Invalidity Service Pension.

These additional benefits will enable greater long term security for both veterans and their families who have played an important and difficult role in the service of their country and for the wider international community.

The reclassification of Operation Husky to 'warlike' is another outcome of the nature of service review put in place by the Howard Government in 2002 to review past operations to ensure they were correctly attributed.

It stands alongside the reclassification of service in Rwanda from 1994 to 1995 as exemplifying the Government's commitment to ensure our ADF personnel who risk their lives on operations overseas have their service recognised and are properly looked after.

Contact:
Cameron Hill
03 9781 2333