Australian Defence Force

Australian Defence Force completes maritime surveillance in Tonga waters

The aerial patrols covered around 470-thousand square kilometres of the Samoan and Tongan exclusive economic zones, identifying seven vessels of interest, and documenting suspicious activities.

Defence Force Commander in the South-West Pacific, Major General Scott Winter, said the support was a major part of Australia's longstanding commitment to maritime security.

Australia defence force suicides 'a national tragedy'

A royal commission - Australia's top form of public inquiry - interviewed hundreds of people over eight months.

It found servicemen and women are struggling with bureaucracy and a lack of support after being discharged.

The government has apologised and promised to urgently respond to the report's recommendations.

"It's devastating that Australia has lost more serving and former serving personnel to suicide than it has lost through operations over the last 20 years in Afghanistan and Iraq," Veterans Minister Matt Keogh said.

Unique skill set helps ADF task force in Tonga

Lieutenant Daniel Atwater is using his meteorologist and oceanographer (METOC) skills to provide HMAS Adelaide’s command group with assessments of the active state of the Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha’apai volcano, tropical weather systems and oceanic conditions to help better inform operations during Operation Tonga Assist 2022.

“We transform atmospheric and oceanographic data into intelligence that tactical decisions can be made from to safeguard our operations,” Lieutenant Atwater said.

Clean up operations begin on Atata island

Recent photos from Australian Defence Force on the ground show the extent of destruction in Atata, much of which was flattened by the tsunami.

ADF troops have been helping with recovery, air lifting in equipment, felling dangerous trees and clearing debris across the island.

Fijian forces joined the relief effort in Tonga last week after a strict COVID-19 isolation period in Australia.

The World Bank estimates the overall damage costs to be more than $125 million, nearly 20 per cent of Tonga’s GDP.

Tongan homecoming for ADF personnel

Among the 630 ship’s company and other embarked ADF personnel on board, there were three Navy sailors and one Army soldier of Tongan heritage.

All four are proud to return as part of the Australian Government response to assist Tonga recover from a volcanic eruption and tsunami on January 15. 

For HMAS Adelaide's chaplain, returning to his birthplace as part of Operation Tonga Assist 2022 holds special significance.

“This is an unimaginable opportunity for me,” said Chaplain Simote Finau, who also participated in Operation Fiji Assist a year ago.

Australian Defence Force completes visits to Tonga and Tuvalu

More than 60 Australian Defence Force personnel travelled to the island nations between 8 April and 4 May 2019, conducting activities to support peace, security and the sovereignty, of these countries.

Commander of Task Group 637.1, Lieutenant Colonel Will Harvey said the visits built on recent regional engagement activities and decades of cooperation between Australia and Pacific Island nations.