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Operation BEL-ISI & Operation BEL-ISI II

Australia: 20 November 1997 to 26 August 2003

AO: Bougainville, Buka Islands and the Papua New Guinea territorial waters surrounding those islands

Background: The 1989-1998 rebellion on Bougainville, which led to a declaration of “independence” by guerrilla leader Francis Ona in 1993, caused between 5000 and 20,000 deaths through war with the mainland (PNG) army and police, internal civil war, starvation, disease and childbirth fatalities.

Operation Bel-ISI is the Pacific Nations Truce and Peace Monitoring between the Bougainvillean Guerrillas (BRA) and the PNG Defence Force in the disputed territory of Bougainville. The force comprised of Fiji, Vanuatu (“Ni Vans”), Tongan, Australian, New Zealand, and Solomon Islander Defence Forces.

April 30 1998, marked the transition from the New Zealand led Truce Monitoring Group (TMG), OP BEL ISI (I), to the Australian led Peace Monitoring Group (PMG) and the beginning of OP BEL ISI (II). The transition occurred following the signing of the Ceasefire Agreement in the Arawa Township earlier that day. The PMG currently consists of about 100 people from Australia, NZ, Fiji and Vanuatu.

The operation consisted of approx 70 ADF logistical staff, including the HQ Peace Monitoring Group. Australian Defence Civilians have also deployed in the capacity of Observers. Electoral Commission personnel also deployed.

The PMG successfully brokered an agreement between the PNG and Bougainville in which Bougainvilleans control their public service, courts, police, correctional institutions, taxation and foreign aid initiatives.

Deployed: 250 Logistics, communications, HQ Staff and Monitors. Total Strength estimated to be 2,400 personnel. The Australian Contingent for OP BEL ISI II was restricted to 70 ADF personnel.

Died: (1) Lance Corporal Shawn Lewis, 145 Signals Squadron (RAEME), Drowning.

Veterans’ Entitlements Determination dated 23 October 2003: Non-warlike Service.

Awards: Australian Service Medal (ASM) with Clasp 'BOUGAINVILLE'.
ASM 1988