Lieutenant Kynan Lang from the 10th/27th Battalion visits the scene where his uncle and cousin died in a bushfire to place a memorial on Kangaroo Island.
Lieutenant Kynan Lang from the 10th/27th Battalion visits the scene where his uncle and cousin died in a bushfire to place a memorial on Kangaroo Island.

Biggest global military op helping Australia as fires burn

The biggest multinational military force in Australian domestic history is now in operation with a record number of troops, aircraft and ships helping combat the fallout from the national bushfire crisis.

And the list of their tasks is now running into the several hundred requiring three joint task forces in four States and the ACT to co-ordinate their movements.

ADF's Operation Bushfire Assist 19-20 national co-ordinator Major General Jake Ellwood said there was no task his troops weren't now involved in from civilian transfers from fire zones, collecting and disposing of dead wildlife and putting out spot fires.

 

Australian Army CH-47 Chinooks from the 5th Aviation Regiment, return from delivering hay bales to remote bushfire effected farms on Kangaroo Island during OP Bushfire Assist.
Australian Army CH-47 Chinooks from the 5th Aviation Regiment, return from delivering hay bales to remote bushfire effected farms on Kangaroo Island during OP Bushfire Assist.

 

Australian Army Combat Engineer, Sapper Patrick Crowley-Bacon from the 5th Engineer Regiment, deployed in support of Operation Bushfire Assist.
Australian Army Combat Engineer, Sapper Patrick Crowley-Bacon from the 5th Engineer Regiment, deployed in support of Operation Bushfire Assist.

 

In NSW, Army engineers were assessing bridges, clearing roads and a navy clearance dive team were recovering a downed civilian chopper while in Victoria personnel were moving fire fighters and evacuees and deploying medical and mental health teams as well conducting drone reconnaissance.

 

An Australian Army Heavy Recovery Vehicle is used to successfully recover an NSW RFS contracted helicopter that ditched into the Ben Boyd Reservoir, near Eden in NSW.
An Australian Army Heavy Recovery Vehicle is used to successfully recover an NSW RFS contracted helicopter that ditched into the Ben Boyd Reservoir, near Eden in NSW.

In South Australia there were farm repairs and fire containment lines being conducted, ADF vets dealing with livestock and native animals and newly formed platoons of woodcutters taking down trees.

 

Reservists from the 10th/27th Battalion, Royal South Australia Regiment, disembark two Australian Army CH-47 Chinooks from the 5th Aviation Regiment at the Kangaroo Island Airport as part of OP Bushfire Assist.
Reservists from the 10th/27th Battalion, Royal South Australia Regiment, disembark two Australian Army CH-47 Chinooks from the 5th Aviation Regiment at the Kangaroo Island Airport as part of OP Bushfire Assist.

 

"Their faces are charcoal black and smiling, but not smiling because of the circumstances but because they can be there to provide a helping hand and they all feel they are making a difference which they are," he said.

 

Lieutenant Kynan Lang from the 10th/27th Battalion visits the scene where his uncle and cousin died in a bushfire to place a memorial on Kangaroo Island.
Lieutenant Kynan Lang from the 10th/27th Battalion visits the scene where his uncle and cousin died in a bushfire to place a memorial on Kangaroo Island.

 

Lieutenant Kynan Lang from the 10th/27th Battalion visits the scene where his uncle and cousin died in a bushfire to place a memorial on Kangaroo Island.
Lieutenant Kynan Lang from the 10th/27th Battalion visits the scene where his uncle and cousin died in a bushfire to place a memorial on Kangaroo Island.

 

Maj Gen Ellwood said there were now 5600 ADF personnel including 2800 reservists, 261 personnel from other countries including Singapore, Fiji, PNG and New Zealand including helicopter crews who were directly involved in operations post last month's White Island/Whakaari volcano eruption tragedy that killed 18 people and injured many more.

 

Royal New Zealand Air Force 3 Squadron NH90 conducting resupply missions in the Gippsland region, Victoria.
Royal New Zealand Air Force 3 Squadron NH90 conducting resupply missions in the Gippsland region, Victoria.

 

There were a total of three warships, 19 helicopters and 12 aircraft involved in operations and 508 civilians were being housed at ADF bases.

Perhaps telling for the summer season ahead, the ADF is also co-ordinating the cargo of more fire retardant stocks from the United States.

 

Australian Army CH-47 Chinooks from the 5th Aviation Regiment, deliver hay bales to remote bushfire effected farms on Kangaroo Island during OP Bushfire Assist.
Australian Army CH-47 Chinooks from the 5th Aviation Regiment, deliver hay bales to remote bushfire effected farms on Kangaroo Island during OP Bushfire Assist.


Maj Gen Ellwood - a highly decorated commander including a Distinguished Service Cross for his leadership in Iraq, US Legion of Merit for his time in Afghanistan and Commander British Forces Commendation for service in Kosovo - said many of those involved in the operation now, came from their holiday leave, willingly knowing the sacrifice for their country or in the case of foreign troops, for their colleagues.

 

Australian Defence Force National Support Coordinator, Major General Justin Ellwood DSC (right), with Captain Brain Collis (left) and Warrant Office Class 2 Shannon Dorahy from 4th Combat Service Support Battalion at RAAF Base East Sale during Operation Bushfire Assist.
Australian Defence Force National Support Coordinator, Major General Justin Ellwood DSC (right), with Captain Brain Collis (left) and Warrant Office Class 2 Shannon Dorahy from 4th Combat Service Support Battalion at RAAF Base East Sale during Operation Bushfire Assist.

 

"The statistics I provide doesn't tell half the story, maybe not even quarter of the story, there are hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of tasks going on every day by people just doing good and you would want nothing else," he said.

"We are exceptionally proud of the work being done but again this work being done to help support the fantastic Emergency Management Services and the community."