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Army May 4, 2012
Time to consider draw down
Defence Minister says Solomon Islands mission could begin draw down as early as next year
AUSTRALIAN troops in Solomon
Islands could begin drawing down
as early as next year according to
Defence Minister Stephen Smith.
After a meeting with Solomon
Islands Prime Minister Gordon Lilo
on Anzac Day, Mr Smith said the
time was right to consider a draw
down of the military elements to
the Regional Assistance Mission to
Solomon Islands (RAMSI).
"Noting RAMSI's success to date
and the improving security situa-
tion, we agreed to start the consulta-
tion process on transitioning out of
Solomon Islands the military compo-
nent of RAMSI," Mr Smith said.
"The draw down process will
involve further consultation with
Solomon Islands, New Zealand and
the Pacific Islands Forum."
He said it was unlikely for any
draw down to begin before next year
and suggested the police element of
RAMSI would stay on after most mil-
itary forces had left.
"Australia will continue to support
RAMSI, including important ongo-
ing support for the Royal Solomon
Islands Police Force and RAMSI's
multinational Participating Police
Force," he said.
"Over the 10-year period, the
RAMSI component has very much
changed to a law and justice and pub-
lic security emphasis, and that's why
there will be a continuing process of
the substantial police deployment."
Mr Smith said he also discussed
with Prime Minister Lilo the possibil-
ity of ongoing engagement between
the ADF and Solomon Islands
through a Defence Cooperation
Program (DCP) after the RAMSI
"Through the DCP, Australia sup-
ports the Pacific Patrol Boat Program
and the work of the Royal Solomon
Islands Police Force explosive ord-
nance disposal team," he said.
"We agreed to explore options to
enhance the DCP. Future activities
under the DCP could include ADF
ship visits or exercises."
Any plans for expanding the DCP,
however, were in the very early stag-
es, he said.
"Given that we have had a military
connection with Solomon Islands over
the past 10 years, as an Australian
part of a RAMSI contingent, the
[Solomon Islands] Prime Minister and
I thought it would be a good idea to
explore these options into the future
to enhance our bilateral associations
During his visit to Solomon
Islands, Mr Smith also met with
Australian troops deployed as part of
"I thanked the Australian soldiers
for their contribution to the continuing
security of Solomon Islands," he said.
"Solomon Islands was of strategic
importance during World War II. The
Guadalcanal campaign in particular
was a significant victory for the Allies.
"The men and women serving
our nation in Solomon Islands today
are doing so in the finest tradition of
those brave Australians who served
and sacrificed in Solomon Islands 70
OPERATION Mazurka's contingent of 25
ADF members challenged the Multinational
Force and Observers' (MFO) larger nation
groups in a military skills competition in the
Sinai last month.
The Australian team came away with the
minor contingent trophy and second place in
the overall competition, with only one point
between first and second.
Australian Contingent commander Lt-Col
Graeme Steel said although it was one of the
smallest contingents, the ADF was tradition-
ally well represented in these events.
"Our team competed against military
teams from the US, Fiji and Colombia as
well as larger contingents from New Zealand,
Canada, Italy and Hungary," he said
"The competition involved finishing an
obstacle course and 3.2km run in patrol order,
followed by a 25m range shoot with different
"After that, teams went through a com-
bat medical scenario and an aircraft and
armoured fighting vehicle recognition stand,"
"The final part of the competition was a
scenario based on a hostile crowd violating
an MFO remote site to test the teams' knowl-
edge and application of the rules of engage-
The Op Mazurka team consisted of
Army Sgts Kym James, Dave Marshall,
Brodie Kerr, Cameron Thomson, and Steve
McDougall, Navy LS Darren Suddery and
Air Force Sgt Jodi Ross.
Lt-Col Steel said the team members were
vocally supported by the rest of the Australian
contingent, and demonstrated true grit and
sportsmanship throughout the competition.
Aussies shine in multinational
military skills competition
Strong performance: The Australian team in the Op Mazurka military skills
competition receive a certificate and trophy for winning the minor contingent
competition and a certificate for placing second overall.
On tour: LCpl Simon Mills demonstrates the Hiab Powerfinger Heavy Lifting equipment to Defence Minister Stephen Smith during the Minister's
Anzac Day visit to Solomon Islands.
Photo by Capt Stephen Miller
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