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Operation ATLAS - ADF support to the Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games


An Australian Army Taipan MRH-90 multirole helicopter flies over Surfers Paradise during preparations for the 2018 Gold Coast Commonwealth Games in Queensland.
An Australian Army Taipan MRH-90 multirole helicopter flies over Surfers Paradise during preparations for the 2018 Gold Coast Commonwealth Games in Queensland.

The 21st Commonwealth Games was held from 4–15 April 2018 on the Gold Coast in Queensland, with some events in Brisbane, Cairns and Townsville. The 2018 Commonwealth Games was the largest event staged in Australia in a decade: more than 6600 athletes and team officials from 70 nations and territories came to the games to compete.

In March 2018, under Operation ATLAS, Joint Task Force 637 was established and assisted Queensland authorities in ensuring the security of the 2018 Commonwealth Games. Operation ATLAS was one of Defence’s largest contributions to a whole-of-government security operation in Australia since the G20 Leader’s Summit in 2014.

The Joint Task Force was comprised of full-time and reserve Navy, Army and Air Force personnel, from across a number of disciplines and areas of Defence. Joint Task Force 637 provided key capabilities such as Army Engineers and Navy Clearance Divers; MRH-90 Taipan helicopters; and a mobile information and communication technology system that enhanced command and control across all elements of the Joint Task Force.

Army Aviation’s MRH-90 Taipan helicopters were an important element in the assistance to the Queensland Police Service for the Games given that the Gold Coast and Brisbane’s road network was put under strain from the thousands of additional visitors to the city. The Air Force also provided an Air Task Group, comprising predominately F/A-18F Super Hornet aircraft. The Air Task Group provided airspace security for key events throughout the Games. Headquarters Special Operations Command was also prepared to provide specialist counter-terrorist capabilities if called upon.

Security operations in support of the Games reinforced the interoperability of government agencies at both the state and federal level. ADF personnel, the Australian Federal Police and Queensland Police performed well together, creating and reinforcing relationships while making important contributions to a safe, secure and enjoyable Games.