Safe and secure
Air Force played a key role in helping protect Sydney during the APEC Leaders’ Meeting, as LT Kris Gardiner reports.

Volume 49, No. 17, September 20, 2007
 
Twenty-one world leaders, 42 ministers and about 4400 business delegates visiting one city at the same time sounds like a serious security headache, but with the ADF lending a hand, the job became a little easier.

The ADF’s role was named Operation Deluge, with Joint Task Force (JTF) 634 tasked by the CDF to provide support to NSW Police security operations at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Leaders’ Meetings that were held in Sydney from August 29 - September 10.

JTF 634 was led by BRIG Andrew Smith, the commander of Operation Acolyte (the ADF’s support to the Melbourne Commonwealth Games in 2006).

With planning starting more than two years ago, the joint task force was well-prepared and positioned, ready to coordinate significant Navy, Army and Air Force assets, including more than 1500 personnel, to enhance the capabilities of the police involved in this enormous undertaking.

The force headquarters was based at Potts Point in Sydney.

“Operation Deluge was, at the time, the largest operation the ADF had running,” BRIG Smith said.

“In terms of personnel and assets assigned, it involved the full range of ADF capabilities from major platforms, such as Hornets and ships, to dedicated and committed Army Reservists,” he said.

JTF 634 also ensured it was ready to respond to requests to provide assistance with a wide range of tasks, including counter-terrorism response, air and sea surveillance, vehicle and building searches, ordnance disposal and mass casualty evacuation, by negotiating with government agencies beforehand and agreeing in advance what tasks it would be undertaking.

“We had to make sure we had the forces available to be ready to respond,” BRIG Smith said. “For example, the police weren’t sure how big the low-risk search tasks were going to be, so we had to be prepared to provide enough personnel. We had to make sure we had the right amount of forces, with the right amount of training ready in Sydney to support the activities.”

Drawing on their shared previous experiences during events such as the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting and the Rugby World Cup, the ADF and the police forces prepared together, developing an excellent working relationship.

The mutual support was recognised by the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding on August 30, which was highlighted by a 3SQN Hornet making a low fly-over of the Sydney Harbour Bridge as part of a familiarisation flight over the city foreshores.

“Ten months in advance, we invested in people who were dedicated in planning with the police and involved ourselves in their training very heavily, in particular with special operations. By doing this, we ensured an excellent working relationship knowing what to expect and who to see when we needed answers,” BRIG Smith said.

In addition to the Hornets, 33SQN B707 refuellers, 41WG, 3CRU, 2ATHS and other Air Force units were represented within JTF 634.

During APEC, Prime Minister John Howard and US President George W. Bush attended a barbecue function at Garden Island to ‘thank the troops’ for their service on overseas operations. Mr Howard and Mr Bush queued with the troops for their lunch and took the time to speak and thank the ADF members for their contribution to Operations Catalyst and Slipper.
 

HUNGRY?: 33SQN crew attendant CPL Clint Thomas prepares meals for the B707 crew during an air-to-air refuelling task near Sydney.

Photos by CPL Chris Moore
 
G’DAY SIR: 3CRU communications electronics fitter LAC Daniel McKay shows his unit patch to Commander JTF 634 BRIG Andrew Smith during Operation Deluge.

Photos by CPL Chris Moore
 
RED HOT: Sydney Harbour lights up during a spectacular fireworks display for the 21 world leaders during APEC.

Photos by CPL Chris Moore
   
LOW PASS: A 3SQN Hornet conducts a fly-over of Sydney Harbour Bridge in the lead-up to APEC.

Photos by CPL Chris Moore
 
GIRL POWER: FLGOFF Rebecca Sharp (left) and FSGT Katherine Tressler meet US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice at a function held for the troops at Garden Island in Sydney.

Photos by CPL Chris Moore
 
SECURE COMMS: LAC Andrew Scully (left) and SGT Michael Mildren from 3CRU work on keeping their radar equipment in top order during Operation Deluge.

Photos by CPL Chris Moore
 
MAPPED OUT: WGCDR Pat Cooper from the National Military Airspace Centre discusses airspace restrictions with SGT Rob Coppock from the APEC NSW Police Security Command at Sydney Airport.

Photos by CPL Chris Moore
 
ON WATCH: 33SQN loadmaster WOFF Stephen Bailey looks on from a B707 as a Hornet is refuelled during Operation Deluge training.

Photos by CPL Chris Moore
 
THANKS FOR COMING: Prime Minister John Howard greets Air Force personnel at a function at Garden Island in Sydney. US President George W. Bush joined Mr Howard at the traditional Aussie barbecue lunch to ‘thank the troops’ present, who had all served on overseas operations.

Photos by CPL Chris Moore

 
Friendly flare-up on patrol
 
 
SPECIAL ESCORTS: Two 3SQN Hornets on security air patrol over Sydney intercepted an unauthorised civilian aircraft in restricted airspace. Pictured are three Hornets conducting air-to-air refuelling in the lead-up to APEC.
ADF air defence procedures and NSW Police measures to provide airspace security over Sydney during Operation Deluge were tested and proven when a small civilian aircraft entered APEC restricted airspace on September 9.

Following identification by civilian authorities of an unauthorised intrusion into the restricted airspace by a civilian aircraft, the aircraft was intercepted by two 3SQN Hornets, which were on security air patrol over the city.

The intervention by the Hornets, coordinated by the ADF’s Air Operations Centre, ensured the light aircraft was brought back under positive control of civilian air traffic authorities.

During the APEC Leaders’ Week, as part of the overall security procedures, a Temporary Restricted Area (TRA) was established over a 45nm radius centred on Sydney Airport and was administered by Defence.

Under promulgated directives, aviation authorities and pilots were advised that the NSW Police and ADF had provided an aviation and defensive counter-air capability to enforce the TRA and they would need advance approval to enter the area. There would be a response to any unauthorised intrusions.

These arrangements mirrored those implemented during the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in 2003 and Melbourne Commonwealth Games in 2006. The approval process was necessary to ensure aircraft safety because high-speed fighters were operating in the area.

The Hornets released their flares as this is an approved method of gaining another aircraft’s attention and is part of normal procedures laid down in civilian air traffic regulations relating to emergencies and intercepts.

The Hornets having attracted its attention, the light aircraft was escorted safely to Bankstown aerodrome, and the two jets continued their patrols.

An investigation into the incident was subsequently initiated by civilian authorities.