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NZ Military Return Home From Banda Aceh


New Zealand Military Return Home From Banda Aceh

59 Defence personnel from the second rotation of the Light Medical Team and RNZAF support personnel will return home this Saturday at 2:00 am from Banda Aceh.

The Joint Force Commander, Major General Lou Gardiner, will welcome the contingent at RNZAF Base Ohakea early Saturday morning.

"The Light Medical Team was part of the NZ Defence Force personnel deployed on Operation Sumatra Assist. Working alongside their Australian counterparts at the ANZAC Field Hospital, we truly appreciate the magnitude of their work and the progress they have made during their time on the ground," General Gardiner said.

"Like all New Zealanders, I am very proud of the part the men and women of the NZ Defence Force have played in helping the people of Aceh. Given the progress of the relief operations, the NZDF is now able to commence withdrawing our emergency relief effort."

The returning contingent of Navy, Army and Air Force personnel are from Navy Health Services, 2nd Health Support Battalion, 1st Battalion, 40 Squadron, and NZDF medical specialists from Wellington, Christchurch and Dunedin.

The C-130 Hercules which has been based out of Halim since 01 January will arrive at RNZAF Base Whenuapai tomorrow night at 8:40 pm (see separate media release).

Media wishing to take this opportunity to meet the contingent are invited to assemble at the main gate at 01:15 am or contact the Public Affairs Officer, Flight Sergeant Paul Stein, 06-351 5490 or 021-378 001.

Photo identification will be required.

01:15 am Media met at Main Gate, RNZAF Base Ohakea

Media mixes with waiting families

02:00 am LMT(B) contingent flight arrives Ohakea

02:10 am LMT(B) contingent moves through customs and MAF

O/c LMT(B)clears customs and MAF

Point of contact; Defence Press Officer

Commander Sandy McKie

See attached backgrounder for details

Ends

OPERATION SUMATRA ASSISTANCE BACKGROUNDER

Introduction . In response to the 26 December 2004 tsunami, NZDF personnel and Force Elements (FE) were deployed to the affected region for a period of 30 days to provide immediate humanitarian assistance.

1st C-130 Operations (NSH 738)

HQ JFNZ started planning 27 December 2004 to deploy a RNZAF C-130 to Indonesia.

Ministerial endorsement was received from joint Ministers Burton and Goff in the evening of the 27 of December 2004. All planning for the deployment of the NZ C-130 was based on the aircraft working in conjunction with the ADF, which coordinated relief operations in Indonesia.

The C-130 deployed from RNZAF Base Whenuapai at 1:00 pm on Tuesday 28 December 2004, having been tasked to be prepared to transport humanitarian assistance freight in the Indonesian area under the auspices of the Australian Defence Force (ADF) Combined Joint Headquarters.

The aircraft collected freight at RAAF Base Richmond (Water Filtration Equipment) to deliver to Medan. The aircraft was diverted to Halim mid flight due to limited ramp space at Medan. Additional payload transported during its’ deployment included relief workers and displaced Indonesians, Humanitarian freight, vehicles and emergency rations. An electrical fault caused a temporary delay in tasks, however was rectified within 24 hours. This C 130 returned to New Zealand on 08 January 2005, in order to conduct taskings within New Zealand.

2nd C-130 Operations (NSH 790)

The second C-130 departed RNZAF Base Ohakea 02 January 2005 bound for Jakarta, and was farewelled by Minister Burton and CDF. On board an air load team (ALT), maintenance crew, medical supplies and thirteen troops from the light medial team (LMT). An additional ALT team (x 4 pers) deployed by civil air NZ-Jakarta 06 January to support the C130 crew based in Halim. NSH 790 remained in theatre for the entire duration of Op Sumatra Assist, transporting Humanitarian freight, relief workers, displaced Indonesians, and media. It also facilitated the rotation of LMT personnel at the end of January, and the extraction of personnel at the end of February. This C130 has kept the maintenance crew working hard, however has completed all taskings as intended, albeit with some delays.

Some stats from the RNZAF C130 Hercules.

a. Humanitarian Aid into Banda Aceh: 430,000 lbs

b. Relief workers and refugees transported: 1,477

c. Flights (Halim – Banda Aceh return): 29 flights

B757 Operations (NSB 764)

Op Phuket Assistance. On Wednesday 29 December 2004 a number of requests were placed upon the NZDF in relation to the Tsunami Relief effort. To meet multiple demands, Chief of Defence Force (CDF) authorized the employment of the B757 to conduct long haul strategic airlift between Australia and Asia, particularly Indonesia.

An emergency response team of 16 NZ Police (Disaster Victim Identification Unit) and 2 MFAT officials were deployed into Phuket, along with NZDF Air Load Teams, Communications, Aeromedical Evacuation and Public Relations personnel.

The B757 departed NZ on Thursday 30 December and arrived in Phuket on Friday 31 December, subsequently redeploying to Kuala Lumpur for further taskings. It conducted it’s first strategic air lift in support of Op Sumatra Assist on 5 January 2005, deploying ADF logistic support personnel into Indonesia. The B757 was released from support to Op Sumatra Assist and returned to New Zealand on 9 January 2005.

Staff Officer Contingent

The Senior National Officer (Lt Col Evan Williams) for the LMT, four staff officers and a Communications NCO were based in Medan throughout the Operation assisting HQ CJTF 629 with staff duties in support of the ANZAC Field Hospital in Banda Aceh and other ADF relief efforts in the area.

Light Medical Team (LMT)

The first Light Medical Team (LMT) of 31 personnel was deployed by civil air and C-130 to Malaysia over the period 1-2 January 05. Eighteen personnel deployed by Civilian Air from Wellington to supplement the 13 deployed by C-130 (NSH 790) from Ohakea.

The LMT concentrated at RMAF Butterworth (Malaysia). The LMT departed New Zealand prepared for a 30 day deployment. All Op Sumatra Assist personnel were uniformed but unarmed.

LMT comprised:

a. An Officer Commanding (Major Charmaine Pene).

b. Medical element (2 Medical Officers, 2 Nursing Officers, Environmental Health Officer (EHO), EHO Technical SNCO and 8 medics).

c. Communications element (3).

d. General Duties element (10).

e. Drivers (2).

f. Logistics personnel (1).

The NZ LMT arrived as a small but functioning team (in terms of comms, medical, dvrs, logistics, etc) which was ready to work from Day One. In conjunction with the ADF the LMT established ANZAC Fd Hospital, increasing the hospital capacity from nil on arrival, to 25 beds. LMT personnel were accommodated in hard standing, on stretchers. All facilities were surrounded by mud and sewage, and earthquakes were a frequent occurrence. Meals were provided by the ADF ration packs, accompanied by fresh fruit and bread every three days.

Work included

a. Removal of mud/debris and cleaning of ANZAC hospital.

b. Setting up functioning hospital services.

c. General Ward Duty, including manning Infectious Diseases Ward.

d. Working closely with Indonesian Medical Staff.

Rotation of LMT(A) and LMT(B).

Due to the intense work being conducted it was necessary to conduct a relief in place of personnel deployed on Op Sumatra Assist. LMT (B) departed Ohakea on Friday 4 February 2005, conducting a handover with LMT (A) in Banda Aceh. LMT (A) returned to Ohakea on Wednesday 9 February 2005.

Withdrawal of NZDF personnel

The period of immediate relief is now over and Aceh has entered the recovery and reconstruction phase, which is being managed by the UN, the Government of Indonesia (GOI) and a number of NGOs.

The NZ Embassy in Jakarta confirms that both the NZDF Light Medical Team in Banda Aceh and the Air Loading Team and C-130 at Halim Air Base in East Jakarta have been fulfilling an essential role in relief efforts. While the NZDF presence has been greatly appreciated, and is seen as a timely response to a disaster of the magnitude experienced, it is recognised that the need for NZDF humanitarian support will soon be at an end and it is appropriate to withdraw in conjunction with the ADF.

Reports from NZDF personnel in Indonesia indicate that the need for military assistance has dwindled now that UN civilian agencies are taking control and the ADF is planning to withdraw the bulk of its forces at the end of February.

LMT (B) and some RNZAF personnel are due home early on Saturday 26 February 2005. The C130 and crew are due home on the evening of Friday 25 February 2005.

Note: Dates may change due to aircraft schedules.

Brief Notes

LMT(A) First rotation 1 & 2 Jan – 9 Feb 05

LMT(B) Second rotation 4 Feb – 26 Feb 05

NSH 790 C130 deployed 1 Jan – 25 Feb 05, with some crew rotating on 4 February 2005.

NSH 738 C130 deployed 28 December 2004 – 8 January 2005.

RNZAF B757 deployed 30 December 2004 – 9 January 2005. Used to transport personnel (ADF & NZDF) and equipment during the early stages of the tsunami relief (Australia, Malaysia, Thailand and Indonesia) and then to move LMT from NZ to Indonesia and return.


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