The latest round of Southwest Pacific & Timor-Leste engagements is set to begin with Joint Task Force 637 and HMAS Sirius arriving in Fiji in early July for a five-day port call.
The stop in Fiji kicks off what is a comprehensive six-month program of ADF activities throughout the region, with a focus on Papua New Guinea, Tonga, Timor-Leste, Vanuatu, the Solomon Islands, New Caledonia, French Polynesia, Samoa and the Micronesia region.
These countries and regions will serve as focal points for cultural exchanges and training activities for the ADF.
Commander of the Joint Task Group 637, Major General Jake Ellwood said the new series of engagements continued to reflect Australia’s enduring commitment to the Pacific community in developing stronger people-to-people links.
“Defence activities are an important part of the Australian government’s program of enhanced engagement throughout the region, with the ongoing security and prosperity of our partners being our highest priority,” MAJGEN Ellwood said.
“We are interested in expanding our understanding of the needs of our neighbours and cementing our relationships with their national security forces.”
Key events in the program include a Guardian Class patrol boat commissioning in Tonga, hydrographic survey activities, air transport support to Pacific Islands Forum delegates, and mutual training in Papua New Guinea.
Defence also confirmed they will “continue to help remove the danger of unexploded remnants of war in Solomon Islands (Operation RENDER SAFE), conduct a joint exercise in Vanuatu (Exercise VANUATU ALLIANCE), and support the efforts to curb illegal fishing across Micronesia.”
MAJGEN Ellwood said the varied nature of the activities reflected the diverse geographic locations, histories, cultures and experiences of the participating nations.
“Australia’s enduring connection to Pacific Island nations and Timor-Leste, as well as our proximity to this region, supports a like-minded approach to common goals such as regional security and the protection of sovereignty,” MAJGEN Ellwood said.