The Australian Defence Force continues the ‘Pacific Step-up’ initiative this week with 120 personnel in a Task Group deployed to Tonga.
The deployment also includes visits to Tuvalu and Samoa between April and July, and includes the crews of HMA Ships Gascoyne and Sirius.
Task Group Commander, Lieutenant Colonel Will Harvey, said that the force would continue the ADF's focus on partnership and capacity building.
“Security and stability in the south-west Pacific is a priority for all nations in the region,” LTCOL Harvey said.
“Defence’s ongoing contribution to the government’s enhanced regional engagement initiative demonstrates Australia’s commitment to our Pacific partners.
“We continue to help regional security forces strengthen their capacity and protect their sovereignty.”
A series of bilateral activities will be central to the Task Group's deployment, including engagement with local security forces, cultural exchanges and discussions between security leaders.
"The recent ADF visits to Papua New Guinea, the Solomon Islands and Vanuatu under the enhanced regional engagement program have been valuable in reinforcing these critical relationships,” LTCOL Harvey said.
“These visits build upon a strong foundation of shared historic, cultural and military experiences and a common interest in a peaceful and secure region.”
The Task Group visit to Tonga began on 23 April and will finish on 26 April, Tuvalu from 30 April to 4 May and Samoa from 24 June to 4 July 2019.