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ADF Support To Tonga

Department of Defence Media Mail List


CPA 306/06 Saturday, 18 November 2006

ADF Support To Tonga

After receiving a request from the Government of Tonga on Friday evening, Australia, in conjunction with New Zealand, has deployed military and police personnel to help restore stability.

The New Zealand-led military deployment includes approximately 50 Australian Defence Force personnel. Their mission will be to support the Tongan Security Forces in stabilising the situation following rioting in Nuku’alfoa and to provide a force capable of safely evacuating Australians and other approved nationals if required.

34 Australian Federal Police officers have also deployed to support the Tongan Police Service.

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

The Australian personnel departed on military aircraft early today from Townsville and Canberra. They will arrive in Tonga this afternoon and join some 60 New Zealand Defence Force personnel.

The Australian Defence Force is a professional and highly trained force that is well prepared and experienced in these types of operations.

Defence remains in close consultation with other government agencies with regards to the situation in Tonga.

QUESTIONS & ANSWERS

Has Australia received an official request from Tonga to help restore security?

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

What assets 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.

The length of their deployment will be determined as the situation becomes clearer in the coming days.

In addition, an RAAF C-130 Hercules aircraft transported 34 AFP officers from Canberra to Tonga on Saturday morning.

What is New Zealand sending?

New Zealand has reported it is deploying about 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?

Australia has deployed forces to assist the Government of Tonga in establishing an environment in which a peaceful resolution to the current unrest can be expedited. This assistance will be a restrained and measured approach that enables effective support to the Tongan Security Forces.

If required, this force is capable of assisting the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade in evacuating Australians and other approved foreign nationals from Tonga.

Will the troops be armed?

Yes.

Defence will not discuss the specifics of it’s rules of engagement.

Will defence be using its aircraft or ships to evacuate Australians?

There is scope to utilise RAAF aircraft should evacuation of Australian and approved nationals be required.

How do people arrange to be evacuated?

The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade is managing the potential evacuation of Australian and approved foreign nationals from Tonga.
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. These assets remain in international waters.

Will the ships assist in Tonga?

At this stage, there is no requirement for these ships to move to Tonga, however they remain ready to assist if required.

Is Australia pre-positioning other aircraft or Navy vessels in anticipation of a deployment to Tonga?

The ADF is prepared to respond further in accordance with Australian Government direction.

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.

What presence does the ADF already have in Tonga:

The ADF have three advisers in Nuku’alfoa attached to the Defence Cooperation Program.

The advisers and their families are safe and well.


Ends

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