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Department of Defence
Media Release

Defence
MEDIA RELEASE

 
21/11/2006 MECC 310/06
 
 
 
Defence Media Release

 

 

 

ADF SUPPORT TO TONGA - UPDATE

 

Australian Defence Force personnel continue their mission as part of the New Zealand led combined military force that is supporting the Tongan Security Forces in stabilising the situation.

 

Current reports are that the situation in Nuku’alofa remains calm. The local population is now returning to a normal daily routine with markets and stalls starting to re-open.  The Australian and New Zealand troops have been well received on the streets of Nuku’alofa.

 

The Commander of the Australian Contingent, Major James Hammett praised the Tongan Security Forces who remain in control of the security situation.  “The Tongan Defence Services and the Tongan Police have been doing a magnificent job,” Major Hammett said.

 

The ADF contingent continues to provide support to the Tongan Defence Service personnel in Nuku’alofa while other Australian personnel assist with security at the Fau’amotu International Airport.

 

Still imagery and audio grabs can be obtained on the Defence website at

http://www.defence.gov.au/tongarelief/gallery.cfm

 

 

Media contact:

 

Defence Media Liaison          (02) 6265 3343 or 0408 498 664

 

For a free subscription to Defence Direct, the Minister for Defence's monthly e-newsletter, please follow this link:

http://www.minister.defence.gov.au/defencedirect/spt/subscribe.html

 

 


QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS:

 

Will the ADF provide additional flights to bring people back to Australia?

 

Commercial flights are available for people wishing to depart.

 

Are we supporting or opposing the pro-democracy movement?

 

Australian forces have deployed at the request of the Tongan Government.  We are there to help the Tongan Security Forces re-establish stability.

 

Did Australia receive an official request from Tonga to help restore security?

 

Yes, an official request from the Tongan Government was received on 17 November. The Tongan Government requested Australia to provide police and military personnel to assist with law and order in their country.

 

What is defence contributing to the Government response to assist Tonga?

 

The ADF contribution is drawn primarily from the 1st Battalion, the Royal Australian Regiment and includes around 30 infantry soldiers and 20 logistic personnel. 

 

How long will the ADF contingent be in Tonga?

 

The length of the deployment will be determined as the situation becomes clearer. 

 

What has New Zealand deployed?

 

New Zealand has deployed around 60 military personnel and a small amount of consular and police officials.  Questions on the New Zealand deployment should be directed to New Zealand authorities.

 

What does the ADF’s task involve?

 

This ADF task is to support the Tongan Security Forces in stabilising the situation.  The ADF contingent is adopting a restrained and measured approach that enables effective support to the Tongan Security Forces who retain primacy in managing security issues.

 

Currently our personnel are providing a small element to back up to the Tongan Defence Service if required and are assisting with security the Fau’amotu International Airport. 

 

Are the troops armed?

 

Yes.

 

Defence will not discuss the specifics of its rules of engagement.

 

What assets does Australia currently have deployed in the South Pacific?

 

Royal Australian Navy ships HMAS Success, HMAS Newcastle and HMAS Kanimbla deployed to the South West Pacific earlier this month in light of the possible unrest in Fiji.

 

The ships remain ready to assist if required.

 

Is the ADF able to maintain preparedness levels to deal with possible unrest in both Fiji and Tonga?

 

Defence maintains a significant capability to deal with situations that arise in Australia’s region at all times. This deployment is further evidence of the high readiness and capacity of the ADF.

 
 

Issued by Ministerial and Executive Coordination and Communication,
Department of Defence,
Canberra, ACT
Phone: 02 6127 1999 Fax: 02 6265 6946
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