Soldiers Depart Marysville bushfire search task
Department of Defence Media Mail List
MSPA 080/09 Saturday, 14 March 2009
Soldiers Depart Marysville As The Transition Towards Recovery Continues
The Australian Defence Force (ADF) has withdrawn its troops from Marysville as its role in the bushfire search task comes to an end.
Several convoys of vehicles rolled out of the town this morning, carrying more than 100 soldiers and tons of military equipment, used in the support provided to Marysville residents, Victoria Police and emergency services personnel.
Last night, local residents hosted a barbecue to farewell the troops and thank them for their support.
The departure comes after Victoria Police advised that it no longer required the assistance of Joint Task Force 662 (JTF662) in the search task beyond Friday, 13 March 2009.
Commander of JTF662, Brigadier Arnold, said it had been a challenging two weeks for the soldiers, who were mainly reservists from interstate.
“They quickly adapted to the significant demands of the task and have interacted extremely well with the police, who’ve been leading the search, and the local residents of the affected communities,” Brigadier Arnold said.
“I know, like all of us who have spent time in the devastated areas, they have been deeply moved by their experiences. They should be very proud of their contribution to the fire relief effort.”
Over the past five weeks, JTF662 has also been involved in aerial fire spotting, route maintenance and fire break development, community engagement and general community support, including the provision of emergency accommodation, meals, laundry, and showers.
Chair of the Victorian Bushfire Reconstruction and Recovery Authority (VBRRA), Christine Nixon, said under the transition phase, services originally provided by the ADF are now being provided through local and state government solutions and commercial contractors.
“Each bushfire affected community has different needs and we are now in the process of moving from the emergency response phase into recovery and reconstruction. The support provided by the Joint Task Force 662 as part of the emergency response has been important in helping communities across Victoria. This has been a great exampῬe of how we can work together to rebuild Victoria, Ms Nixon said
Brigadier Arnold said the departure marked a milestone for the JTF662.
“As a consequence of the conclusion of the search task, we will draw down significantly to around 100 personnel this weekend. However, we will still be operational beyond Sunday, and remain ready to respond to any requests for assistance.”