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WORLD NEWS 15
Army December 10, 2009
By WO2 Graham McBean
TONGAN soldiers are returning
home after four months of service to
the Regional Assistance Mission to
Solomon Islands (RAMSI).
The soldiers had deployed with
Rotation 19 of the Australian Operation
Anode, supporting RAMSI's mission
to restore law and order, economic gov-
ernance and improve the machinery of
A combined marine, navy and
infantry platoon of more than 30 men
joined the Australians at Canungra in
South-East Queensland for pre-deploy-
The Tongan Defence Services
(TDS) contingent then deployed on
Australian Maj Garren Hamilton
said working with the Tongan soldiers
had been a "tremendous" experience.
He said operating in Solomon
Islands required a high degree of judg-
ment and the TDS had provided a
unique capability to Rotation 19.
"The Tongan Defence Services
came to Australia about three weeks
into our training and completely
changed the tone of the entire camp,"
Maj Hamilton said.
"It really lifted our soldiers and lift-
ed the whole atmosphere of the camp."
The combined military task force
of Tonga, Australia and New Zealand
provided a deterrent to destabilis-
ing elements in Solomon Islands so
capacity-developing programs could
Tongans worked closely with the
Royal Solomon Islands Police Force
and the Participating Police Force in
patrolling Honiara, Guadalcanal and
Marine LCpl Christopher Pou'uhila
said it had been a good professional
opportunity to work with Australian
and New Zealand soldiers to make
Solomon Islands a more peaceful
The veteran of Iraq in 2004 and UN
Missions in Mongolia and Indonesia
deployed to Solomon Islands in 2006
following the riots and said RAMSI
had made a real difference.
"It is much quieter now than in 2006
and I think RAMSI is really working to
restore peace to the people of Solomon
Islands," LCpl Pou'uhila said.
"This is my job to help people who
are suffering and I have really liked
working together for the return of
He said the Tongans had learnt a
lot of skills working with the larger
Australian Army but all soldiers were
basically the same.
"It's not too different -- we are all
army," he said.
"We are all army":
Australian Pte Guy
Jensen and Tongan
Pou'uhila patrol near
Honiara (above), and
come across old military
hardware with Pte Viliami
Daai and Pte Nginingini
Photos by WO2 Graham McBean
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