Home' Defence Magazine : Issue 2 2009 Contents 18
ust hours after australia’s most
devastating firestorm tore through
large parts of Victoria in early
february, Defence was there.
In the weeks that followed, more
than 600 personnel provided specialist and
emergency support to hundreds as part of Defence’s
coordinated relief effort, Operation Vic Fire Assist.
Under the watchful command of Brigadier
(BRIG) Michael Arnold, the Joint Task Force (JTF)
included full-time and Reserve members, primarily
from the Army’s 4th Brigade. Major contributing
units also included the 4 Combat Engineer
Regiment, 22 Construction Regiment, 4 Combat
Service Support Battalion, 108 Signals Squadron
and 4/19 Prince of Wales’s Light Horse Regiment.
“The Australian Government and Defence
remains committed to supporting their fellow
Australians in their time of need,” BRIG Arnold said.
In an address to the House of Representatives
shortly after the tragedy, the Minister for Defence,
the Hon. Joel Fitzgibbon, talked of his emotional
visit to some of the most devastated areas.
“The media coverage of the Victorian bushfires
has been so extensive and, indeed, so graphic that
I am confident every Australian has a proper and
full appreciation of the level of carnage and tragedy
those affected have faced,” Mr Fitzgibbon said
“I saw that carnage first-hand, yet what has
happened in the towns just north of Melbourne
remains, to me, incomprehensible.
“But what is just as amazing is the strength
and the resilience of those who have lost so
much and the selfless sacrifices of those who are
working so hard to help others.
“Of course, many of those lending assistance
are themselves victims of those tragic bushfires.”
Mr Fitzgibbon also said that 4 Brigade stood
as a reminder that the role of the Reserve forces in
the ADF is worthwhile, meaningful and critical.
“They are accountants, tradesmen, doctors,
technicians and teachers who give freely of their
time to be prepared by training, to assist their
fellow Australians and to take care of Australia’s
national interests when they are called upon to do
so,” Mr Fitzgibbon said.
Chief of the Defence Force Air Chief Marshal
Houston also visited the devastated townships,
starting at Maygar Barracks in Broadmeadows to
witness the departure of the first convoy of trucks
carrying 120 pallets of emergency equipment to be
used to set up Community Service Hubs in bushfire-
On 14 March, several convoys of vehicles
rolled out of Marysville signifying the end of
Defence’s role in the critical bushfire search task.
The departure came after Victoria Police
advised that it no longer required the assistance of
the TF in the search task beyond 13 March.
BRIG Arnold said it had been a challenging
two weeks for soldiers, who were mainly reservists
“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,” BRIG 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.”
Victoria rise from the ashes
By Jack Foster
sunday 08 february
• Portable bedding for 150 people sent in to the residents
of Warragul, while tents, beds and sleeping bags for
120 people were dispatched to Yea.
• An Army Engineer has joined the Integrated Emergency
Response Centre in the CFA Head Quarters in Victoria to
assist with a review of the bushfire situation and provide
advice on additional Defence support.
• Defence liaison officer sent in with emergency authorities
to provide increased visibility on possible future tasking
Monday 09 february
• Brigadier Michael Arnold constitutes two task groups as
part of a Joint Task Force (JTF): an Engineer Support Group
and a Reserve Response Force Support Group.
• The Engineer Support Group consists of 15 plant
operators, seven bulldozers and front-end loaders,
their associated operators, two chainsaw sections and
• Reserve Response Force Support Group, comprising
of 160 personnel, formed and ready to deploy from
• Engineer task group cuts 10km of fire breaks in the vicinity
of Broadford and Yea.
• A team of five plant operators and heavy lift truck drivers
have moved to Puckapunyal Army Base to load the bulldozers
and plant equipment before driving to Yea.
• Additional logistics support is being provided by
4 Combat Support Services Battalion.
• A reconnaissance team of three personnel including a
liaison officer and signaller have already been despatched
to the CFA Regional Command Centre.
Tuesday 10 february
• Air Force uses AP-3C Orion aircraft over the fire-affected
area to assist with identification of the fire front.
DEFENCE SuPPoRT To oPERATIoN VIC FIRE ASSIST:
Links Archive Issue 1 2009 Issue 3 2009 Navigation Previous Page Next Page