ADF support for Solomon Islands election

Australian military aircraft played a major role in the Solomon Islands during national elections, moving police, military and civilian specialists from multiple countries into and around Solomon Islands.

CAPTIONAir Force aviators deployed to Solomon Islands unload a RAAF Boeing C-17 Globemaster III at Honiara Henderson Airport. Story by Major Tom Maclean. Photo by Corporal Dustin Anderson.

RAAF C-130J Hercules and C-17 Globemaster aircraft regularly fly into Honiara International Airport, while C-27J Spartan deliver personnel and cargo to outlying airfields.

Squadron Leader Craig O’Malley, of 382 Squadron, said the team of Royal Australian Air Force and Australian Army members on the ground helped new arrivals quickly clear immigration and customs so they could get to work.

“Everyone has been working hard to ensure it’s a smooth process,” Squadron Leader O’Malley said.

Over the weeks leading up to the elections, the team unloaded tonnes of cargo from aircraft, often in either sweltering heat or the occasional tropical downpour.

One particularly challenging piece of cargo was a Bell 412 helicopter that was loaded onto a C-17 and flown in for the Royal Solomon Islands Police Force.

Private Jordan Schooth of 1st Joint Movements Unit said the many complex tasks had been professionally rewarding.

“It took a lot of people and coordination to move the helicopter,” he said.

“We had to be really careful because of its long tail.

“We had to make sure it didn’t hit the ceiling inside the C-17 when we were rolling it out of the aircraft and onto the ground.”

All the activity has also presented training opportunities.

Local firefighters employed at Honiara International Airport received a familiarisation tour on a C-27J Spartan and learned how to work with deployed ADF personnel.

About 300 ADF members deployed to support Solomon Islands to facilitate a safe and secure election period.

Election observers from Australia also took time to visit deployed ADF personnel.

Federal and state members of parliament, as well as other representatives of the Australian government toured a C-27J Spartan to learn how it is used to deliver and collect ballots from remote airfields.

The observer tour also provided a chance for old friends to reunite.

Finance officer Lieutenant Colonel Andrew Lam, of 17th Brigade, was excited to see NSW Member for Blacktown Stephen Bali, whom he went through Army training together as recruits at Kapooka in 1996.

 

 


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