Home' Defence Magazine : Issue 1 2010 Contents 40 www.defence.gov.au/defencemagazine
defence magazine ›
One of the most highly-coveted roles
in peace-keeping missions across
the world is easily that of the Civil
Military Liaison (CML) Operator.
However, if you were to ask many soldiers
to define the role of CML, they will mumble
something about “winning hearts and minds”
before swiftly changing the subject.
Five people who know the ins and outs of the
job are Army Reservists Lieutenant Brett Fowler,
Sergenat Francesco Mazzella, Signaller Julieanne
Horsman and two full-time Senior National
Officers, Tongan Lieutenant Semisi Tapueluelu
and Papua New Guinean Captain Nonge Serum,
the current CML Team for Operation Anode in the
hearts and minds
in Solomon islands
By the Civil Military Liaison cell in the Solomon Islands
Operation Anode is the Australian Army’s
contribution to the Regional Assistance Mission
to the Solomon Islands (RAMSI). After political
problems and ethnic fighting left the nation
vulnerable, soldiers and police from 15 countries
in the Pacific region were invited into Solomon
Islands by the Government to help restore law and
The Army’s role was not to provide aid, rather
to help maintain a stable environment while
programs to build local capacity and long-term,
sustainable skills of Solomon Islands police and
Government are implemented.
The CML team operates out of the main RAMSI
base, located on the island of Guadalcanal,
home to approximately 110,000 people. The
team’s role in Operation Anode is to help build
a strong relationship between RAMSI’s military,
international police, the local police (Royal
Solomon Islands Police Force) and the Solomon
A key part of the CML team’s role in building
these relationships within the community are its
involvement in village/community talks – known as
RAMSI Outreach. These talks take the CML team
to villages throughout the country, where they can
explain the work of RAMSI, its role in the country,
and talk through the country’s progress as it moves
forward following a period of much turmoil.
These Outreach sessions are always lively, and
community questions cover anything from the
purpose of RAMSI’s mission, to when RAMSI will
leave the country. Other activities such as face-
painting or volleyball will usually be incorporated
with RAMSI Outreach meetings to encourage
The RAMSI military’s CML is also involved in a
weekly Auskick (AFL) clinic in Honiara, which
has helped build strong relationships with the
community. The social nature of the role, as
well as the frequent travel opportunities, makes
the CML position one of the most sought-after
positions in overseas deployments.
“It is a great gig, because it means I get to see a
lot of this beautiful country while doing something
I love; talking to people,” SIG Horseman said.
The Australian group working as part of the CML
team consists of LT Brett Fowler, a 26-year-old
detective with the Western Australian Police
Force, SGT Francesco Mazzella, a 49-year-old
high school teacher and father of three, and SIG
Julieanne Horsman, a 25-year-old journalist from
Sydney. The three were selected from a large pool
of applicants based on their personalities and
All three undertook Solomon Islands Pijin lessons
during pre-deployment training, which has been
an important factor in their positive reception by
Each of the team are Army Reserve soldiers
who have taken leave from their normal jobs to
participate in the deployment to Solomon Islands.
They have found they often utilise skills from their
civilian jobs for the Army work.
“My job outside of the Army Reserves as a
detective with WA Police regularly involves me
speaking with victims, witnesses and offenders of
serious crime,” LT Fowler said.
“The people skills I have gained from this have
greatly assisted my CML role. It has helped me
interact at all levels with villagers in the different
communities, from the Chief of the village through
to the small pikininis (kids).”
This is LT Fowler’s second overseas deployment,
having previously served at Rifle Company
Butterworth in Malaysia, while for the deployment
is a first for SGT Mazzella and SIG Horsman.
“My civilian work as a teacher at Bunbury Senior
High School has given me some great skills for
working here with the Solomon Islanders,” SGT
“I’m also proud that I’m playing a part in Australia’s
role in helping out one of its closest neighbours.”
However, it is the multi-national focus of the
team that boosts its effectiveness. During patrols
and community meetings, Solomon Islanders see
different uniforms from throughout the Pacific,
reflecting the truly regional nature of the mission.
New Zealand’s military Padre, Captain James
Molony is a regular attendee with the CML patrols
Combined Task Force - 635
The Army component of RAMSI comprises of troops
from four contribution nations which make up the
Combined Task Force 635: Australia, New Zealand,
Papua New Guinea and Tonga.
alongside many of his fellow New Zealand military
Every time the CML team engages with the public
it is aiming to win hearts and minds, but not for
the sake of being perceived as good guys, rather to
assist the overall RAMSI mission of building long-
lasting capacity and confidence within the police
and Government of Solomon Islands. And this work
is much more than just smiling and waving; it is an
important weapon that is highly beneficial to the
ABOVe: A Verahoi child at a RAMSI outreach meeting.
LeFT: Captain Nonge Serum and Lieutenant James Tapueluelu paint faces during an outreach meeting at Verahoi.
ABOVe: The Civil Military Liaison Cell (L-R): Sergenat Francesco Mazzella, Papua New Guinean Captain Nonge Serum,
Lieutenant Brett Fowler, Tongan Lieutenant Semisi Tapueluelu and Signaller Julieanne Horsman.
RIGHT: Sergeant Francesco Mazzella and Tony Inben,
an elder from New Valley Guadacanal.
ABOVe: Signaller Julieanne Horsman with some young local girls at
Photos: Trooper John Bain
Links Archive Issue 9 2009 Issue 2 2010 Navigation Previous Page Next Page