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Operation LAGOON

Australia: 4-21 October 1994.

AO: Papua New Guinea - BOUGAINVILLE

Since 1988, the Eastern Island of Bougainville, which nestles in between the Solomon Islands and Papua New Guinea, had seen a protracted guerrila war against the Papua New Guinea Defence Force (PNGDF). The guerillas the Bouganville Revolutionary Army (BRA), were fighting for independence from PNG, allowing themselves to establish an autonomous Country, rich in mineral resources.

In an attempt to bring peace and stability to the region, Australia led a peacekeeping force to broker a peace agreement between the PNG Government and the BRA, with a view to hold free and fair elections in the long term. This force was known as the South Pacific Peacekeeping Force (SPPKF), which deployed between 4-21 October 1994.

Tasked with providing security for the Peace conference held in Arawa, the SPPKF was deployed to cover four neutral zones, Team Sites were established to each of the four neutral zones, with a HQ established in ARAWA. Support was provided by Tonga, Fiji and Vanuatu in the provision of Infantry troops, with New Zealand providing additional C-130 aircraft.

The Bougainville Revolutionary Army, (BRA), not trusting the allegance of the SPPKF with the Papua New Guinea Defence Force (PNGDF), did not attend the Peace conference. As a result the conference collapsed. OPERATION LAGOON lasted less than 3 weeks with only limited success in that an agreement was signed committing the island to long term peace.

The Truce Monitoring Group (TMG) and the Peace Monitoring Group (PMG), with troops and personnel provided from Australia, New Zealand, Tonga, Vanuatu and Fiji was to be established late in 1997.

Deployed: Army: SASR; 3rd Brigade, including 103 Signal Squadron, 5th Aviation Regiment (4 X Blackhawks), 4 Field Regiment (RAA), 3rd Combat Engineer Regiment, 3rd Brigade Administrative Support Battalion (Medics); RAN assests: HMA Ships SUCCESS, TOBRUK & 2 X Sea King Helicopters; RAAF Assets: Medics, Air Transportable Telecommunications Unit (ATTU), 2 X CC-08 Caribou (Short Range Transport aircraft), 4 x C-130 Hercules (Long Range Transport aircraft) with ground crews.

Strength: Approx 800.

VEA: Schedule 3 from 21 September 1994.

Awards: Nil.