Op Bushfire Assist – 19 January UPDATE

Updated 9am 20 January 2020

CAPTION: Lieutenant Matilda Connell and Corporal Trent Jones from the 3rd Combat Engineer Regiment conduct map reconnaissance with Deputy Incident Controller Emma Conway and Commander Mitch Simmons from the Country Fire Authority, to assess fire damage in Omeo, during Operation Bushfire Assist. Photo by Private Madhur Chitnis.

RELATED STORIES: Operation Bushfire Assist 19-20

The bushfire crisis is the Australian Defence Force’s main effort.

More than 6500 ADF personnel are supporting Operation Bushfire Assist. This includes about 3000 reservists.

ADF efforts are also being supported by more than 350 international military representatives.This includes 90 New Zealand Defence Force members, 100 Papua New Guinea Defence Force members, almost 50 Republic of Singapore Air Force members and 70 Japan Self-Defense Force members and and 54 Republic of Fiji Military Forces.


Detailed support

Victoria – Joint Task Force (JTF) 646

Daily highlights

  • Poor weather conditions in parts of Victoria may impact ground operations. These activities will resume once weather conditions change..
  • Republic of Fiji Military Forces are being inducted at Puckapunyal. Once this is complete they will start road clearance tasks in the Orbost region.
  • Papua New Guinea Defence Force (PNGDF) engineers are working with ADF members to clear roads in Omeo.
  • HMAS Adelaide relocated from Eden to the vicinity of Point Hicks (West of Mallacoota).
  • Army mechanics are helping to repair and maintain emergency services vehicles to keep them operational in the field.
  • JTF 646 is providing logistics and transport assistance to Emergency Services in Tallangatta and Corryong.
  • Engineers are clearing routes around Buchan.

Ongoing activity

  • Army teams are continuing to clear the Princes Highway and surrounding roads to enable essential supplies to be delivered to isolated communities and emergency services.
  • Defence is working with the Victorian Government to return up to 500 residents to Mallacoota via Air Force fixed-wing aircraft from Melbourne and East Sale. ADF support to Mallacoota continues.
  • Engineer teams that have disembarked HMAS Adelaide are supporting route clearance tasks near the Victorian and NSW border.
  • Delivery of fodder to areas of need, and route clearance through coastal and alpine areas continues.
  • Support is being provided to evacuee camps, Department of Human Services recovery centres and emergency service personnel.

Air support

  • Two Australian and two Singaporean CH-47 Chinook helicopters are operating from RAAF Base East Sale to provide support to firefighting operations and humanitarian assistance to remote and isolated communities.
  • Air traffic controllers are providing a flight information service at the Bairnsdale Airport to support local authorities to manage the high volume of air traffic at the airport.
  • A P-8A Poseidon aircraft is regularly conducting reconnaissance flights over fire-affected areas, and the following aircraft are conducting support flights: a C-17A Globemaster from RAAF Base Amberley, two C-130J Hercules from RAAF Base Richmond and three C-27J Spartans from RAAF Base East Sale.



Health and pastoral support

  • Air Force is operating a medical facility at RAAF Base East Sale and providing pastoral care to support Joint Task Force operations. Each JTF is staffed with appropriately credentialed mental health professionals to provide proactive and reactive mental health support.

UAS support

  • A Small Unmanned Aerial System (Wasp) is based at RAAF Base East Sale to conduct reconnaissance operations in support of JTF 646.

Mobility operations

  • Engineering personnel and equipment have been made available to supplement state capabilities in clearing and reopening roads in fire-affected areas. Other tasks include removing debris from public areas and clearing firebreaks and fire trails.

Damage assessments

  • Support is being provided to Victorian authorities to undertake rapid damage assessments in regional Victoria. The ADF is enhancing the search and rescue assessment capacity with additional vehicles and drivers.


New South Wales and Australian Capital Territory – Joint Task Force (JTF) 1110

Daily highlights

  • Army engineers are helping to plan the reconstruction of a damaged roof at Mogo Zoo on the NSW south coast.
  • Army personnel are helping to clear vegetation around the Canberra Deep Space Communication Complex at Tidbinbilla and Tharwa Bridge.
  • 6.8km of the 70km Bondo State Forest firebreak has been completed.
  • ADF teams continue to clear routes in Snow Valley and Monaro region.
  • Potable water transport continues within Greater Hume Council and Snowy Valleys – providing 40,000L per day to the community.
  • HMAS Choules is in Sydney to collect more provisions until 22 January.

Ongoing activity

  • ADF teams are helping to restore a Radio Station near Glenbogen (Bega Valley).
  • Civil Military Cooperation personnel are working in Tumut, Taree, Nowra, Cooma, Bombala, Bega, Richmond and Canberra.
  • Chaplains are now operating in Bega, Cobargo, Cooma, Eden, Singleton, Tumbarumba, Batlow and Kiah.
  • Water resupply continues to areas of need.
  • ADF teams continue to establish and support distribution centres in Batemans Bay, Lake Conjola, Milton, Shoalhaven and Cobargo.
  • Consolidation of fodder and hay for the non-government organisation South Coast Rural Relief is ongoing.
  • Route clearance tasks in the South West Slopes and Snowy Mountains region include: Tumbarumba Rd, Wondalga Rd, Goat Ridge Rd, Cabramurra and Elliott Way, the Alpine Way, and in the vicinity of Countegany and Imlay Rd.
  • Support to the distribution of food aid and donated goods continues in Batemans Bay, Lake Conjola, Milton and Shoalhaven.
  • JTF 1110 continues to support catering efforts, providing 1100 meals a day to civil and military personnel at the Bega Evacuation Centre..
  • Support continues around the Canberra and Tumut area with clearance, logistics, medium and heavy plant tasks and driver support to the Rural Fire Service.
  • Primary health care team support is being provided in Tumbarumba, Bega, Braidwood, Bucketty and HMAS Albatross.
  • Two Fleetliner fuel tankers around Holbrook are providing 120,000 litres per day to local communities.
  • Accommodation and meals are being provided on HMAS Albatross.

Air support

  • MRH-90 Taipan, MH-60R Seahawk and EC-135 helicopters continue fire mapping, surveillance, and search and rescue operations supporting the NSW Wales Rural Fire Service throughout  the Hunter, Greater Sydney, Illawarra, ACT and southern regions.
  • Four Australian Army MRH-90 helicopters and crew are providing support out of Luscombe Airfield at Holsworthy.



Recovery operations

  • The ADF is providing personnel and equipment to undertake initial recovery tasks as identified and assessed by the NSW Government, based on advice from specialist ADF advisers. These tasks are in Tamworth, Wollondilly, Nowra, Mudgee, Maitland and Wingecarribee.

Health and pastoral support

  • Army has established a medical facility at Holsworthy Barracks and is providing pastoral care to support JSF operations.


  • NSW Police has assigned Assistant Commissioner Michael Willing to Joint Task Force 1110 to strengthen communication and coordination with the ADF
  • Army support teams have been liaising with communities in Wagga Wagga, Tumut, Holbrook, Cooma, Jindabyne, Tumbarumba, Jingellic, Bega, Bermagui and Eden.


South Australia and Tasmania  – Joint Task Force (JTF) 1111

Daily highlights

Kangaroo Island:

  • The JTF has helped establish the Parndana Relief Centre. Teams continue to purify and distribute water for the area. Three primary health care teams are providing support in Parndana.
  • JTF 1111 continues to support SA Water, SA Health, State Emergency Service and Country Fire Service infrastructure.
  • Teams are assisting with livestock burial and treatment, route and fencing clearance, clearing felled trees and providing support for SA Water and SA Power networks.
  • Water purification at Kingscote has so far generated 2,398,000 litres of water.
  • An Australian Army catering detachment is helping to feed of the influx of personnel conducting support tasks on the island.

Adelaide area:

  • Army personnel are assisting the Mt Barker Council with fire track clearance.
  • Army personnel have arrived at Cleland Wildlife Park to aid in koala feeding and habitat establishment.
  • Teams continue to engage with the Lobethal Recovery Centre, which is providing emergency relief and recover support to residents affected by bushfires in the Adelaide Hills and Cudlee Creek areas.
  • Water and emergency fodder distribution will continue in the Adelaide Hills.

Ongoing activity

  • Water and emergency fodder distribution will continue in the Adelaide Hills.
  • Teams are ready to support koala rescue at Warradale Barracks.
  • The New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF) Water Treatment Facility at Vivonne Bay is providing up to 12,000 litres of fresh water in cooperation with SA Water. NZDF engineers supported repair tasks in the area.
  • ADF teams are assisting with repairs to farms and infrastructure, roadside maintenance, clearing fallen trees and transporting up to 20,000 litres of water for local farms and livestock in the Adelaide Hills.
  • A P-8A Poseidon maritime patrol aircraft is conducting reconnaissance flights over fire-affected areas in NSW, Victoria and South Australia. This aircraft is operating from RAAF Base Edinburgh, South Australia.
  • Army support teams are disposing of deceased livestock and wildlife on Kangaroo Island. The teams are also assisting with fire containment tasks, equipment provisions, road clearance and fence repairs, removing fallen trees and replacing roadside markers.
  • Soldiers and chaplains are supporting vulnerable or at-risk members of the community, including farmers and vineyard owners.
  • ADF personnel are helping with property clean-up for residents near Cudlee Creek (around Adelaide).
  • Army catering staff are assisting in the provision of meals for South Australia Country Fire Service personnel.
  • A Civil-Military Cooperation Liaison Officer team is helping coordinate tasks for the greater Adelaide area.


International assistance

  • The Government of Japan has provided two C-130 Hercules aircraft and associated personnel. The Japan Self-Defense Force aircraft are based at RAAF Base Richmond.  The JSDF flew its first C-130 mission supporting operations on Kangaroo Island on January 19. The team delivered cargo and personnel in fire-affected areas such as Kingscote. The C-130 will move equipment between Kingscote and RAAF Edinburgh today.
  • The Republic of Fiji’ has provided a platoon of around 50 engineers, who will work alongside ADF personnel operating out of East Gippsland.
  • The New Zealand Defence Force and the Singapore Armed Forces are providing support through military assets and personnel.
  • The Papua New Guinea Defence Force has provided 100 light engineers who are working with JTF 646.








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Posted by Brian Hartigan

Managing Editor Contact Publishing Pty Ltd PO Box 3091 Minnamurra NSW 2533 AUSTRALIA

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