Following on from presenting the Duke of Gloucester’s Cup in Cairns to the crew of Hydrographic Ship (HS) Blue Crew, the Prince of Wales travelled to Darwin to meet with soldiers from the North West Mobile Force (NORFORCE).
Commander of the Regional Force Surveillance Group, Colonel John Papalitsas, welcomed Prince Charles and demonstrated the unique capabilities of the group.
“The Regional Force Surveillance Group is tasked to provide a littoral surveillance and reconnaissance capability in Australia’s north and north-west in order to support whole-of-government efforts to maintain national sovereignty and border security," COL Papalitsas said.
“This group also plays a significant role in Army’s Indigenous engagement and development efforts, with its units having the highest rate of Indigenous participation within the Army. It was an honour to showcase the unique capabilities of the Regional Force Surveillance Group to the Prince."
"I’m pleased that the Prince was able to see first-hand the valuable contribution made by our people in some of the most remote areas of Australia’s north and north-west, both supporting border protection operations and providing opportunities for Indigenous Australians."
During the visit, Prince Charles participated in a short tour of Darwin Harbour on a Regional Patrol Craft. NORFORCE also demonstrated the key platforms and systems used to undertake land and littoral surveillance and reconnaissance operations.
“NORFORCE is closely involved in community engagement through its Regional Force Surveillance Unit. Many of the soldiers serving in the Regiment are contributing in the communities where they grew up, which is beneficial for both the individual and the community as a whole,” COL Papalitsas said.
COL Papalitsas said the Prince spent time with the families of Regional Force Surveillance Group members during the visit.
"Today was a very proud moment for these soldiers and their families and a once in a lifetime opportunity to meet with the Prince and discuss their work on building relationships with remote Indigenous communities and increasing Australian Defence Force capability," he said.
The Regional Force Surveillance Group is comprised of the Army’s three Regional Force Surveillance Units (RFSUs): NORFORCE; The 51st Battalion, The Far North Queensland Regiment; and The Pilbara Regiment, and covers an area of operations that encompasses some 52 per cent of the Australian continent.
This includes an arc which covers the north and north-west of Australia from Geraldton in Western Australia, across the Northern Territory, through far north Queensland and south to Cardwell.
The group undertakes significant Indigenous engagement and development and delivers pathway training for Indigenous Australians wishing to pursue a career in Army through its Indigenous development wing in Darwin.