Change of command for Sudan contingent

Colonel Richard Watson handed over command of Operation Aslan to Colonel David Hughes at a ceremony at UN Tomping Base in Juba in February.

CAPTION: Outgoing Commander of the Australian Contingent, Colonel Richard Watson, left, hands over command to Colonel David Hughes on February 18. Photo by Flight Lieutenant Aminta Thomas.

Colonel Hughes thanked Colonel Watson for his devotion to the success of Operation Aslan, Australia’s contribution to the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS).

“Under Colonel Watson’s leadership, he and his team have made a significant contribution to UNMISS’s role of building accountability, peace and stability in South Sudan,” Colonel Hughes said.

Colonel Hughes said he was committed to strengthening ties with international partners to continue the great work achieved by the mission in the past year.

“It is a privilege to command a dedicated group of Australians who work in critical and challenging roles to enable the United Nations in South Sudan,” Colonel Hughes said.

“Our ADF team achieves great outcomes, and benefits from unique operational and personal experiences.”

The multinational team of military observers and liaison officers is the link between the South Sudan Peoples Defence Force and the UNMISS troops and humanitarians conducting patrols and inspections to protect the people of South Sudan through the monitoring of human rights and the delivery of humanitarian aid.

CAPTION: Outgoing Commander of the Australian contingent Colonel Richard Watson, third from left, addresses the contingent during the change of command parade at Juba on February 18. Photo by Flight Lieutenant Aminta Thomas.


UNMISS is the largest UN mission, comprising about 18,000 military, civilian, volunteer and law enforcement personnel from across 60 nations within 18 formed contingents.

The ADF contingent, comprising up to 20 personnel from the Navy, Army and Air Force, is engaged in key headquarters positions, aviation and logistics support roles, as well as acting as military liaison officers to support UNMISS’s mandate.

Colonel Watson said he would look back fondly on his time in command.

“South Sudan is the world’s newest country that continues to work towards a brighter future. However, there are many challenges, with hard-earned progress by UNMISS, NGO and Government of South Sudan agencies easily lost or compromised due to a range of difficult factors,” Colonel Watson said.

“Political, tribal, environmental and internally displaced persons factors can trigger conflict, as can a wide range of security challenges, including food paucity, flooding and cattle-herding, which cause significant friction with local communities.

“It is a complex environment to work within, but one that is thoroughly rewarding. I encourage all ADF members to consider deploying on Operation Aslan.”

See the UNMISS website for more information:





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