Defence personnel of Transit Security Element 77 (TSE 77) assigned to Operation RESOLUTE have been recognised at Darwin’s Larrakeyah Barracks.
The ceremony recognising the efforts of 83 personnel was attended by official guest Brigadier David Thompson, AM, the Commander of 13 Brigade from Western Australia and Commodore Brenton Smyth, RAN, the Deputy Commander of Joint Task Force 639.
The highlight of the ceremony was the presentation of the Operational Service Medal – Border Protection to those Royal Australian Navy and Australian Army members of TSE 77 who had not received the award for previous Operation RESOLUTE deployments.
The reviewing officer, Commodore Smyth, noted the continuing importance of Transit Security Element rotations in the protection of Australian maritime security.
“It is an honour and a pleasure to be here this afternoon, in this fantastic location where the land meets the sea,” Commodore Smyth said.
“Particularly for those ‘in green’ (members of the Army) this location is symbolic in recognising what you have achieved in going to sea in Australian Navy ships, supporting Operation RESOLUTE, which deals with eight different maritime threats.
“Although Operation RESOLUTE is a domestic operation, it is one in which the Australian Government has placed a high priority and the awarding of this medal reflects your contribution to defending Australia’s strategic interests.”
Operation RESOLUTE is the Australian Defence Force’s contribution to maritime security, focusing on eight threats including illegal exploitation of natural resources, illegal activity in protected areas, illegal maritime arrivals, prohibited imports/exports, maritime terrorism, piracy, robbery and violence at sea, compromise to bio-security and marine pollution.
Like 57 of his Army colleagues Major Bob Colligan was the Officer Commanding TSE 77 from 13 Brigade, an Army Reserve brigade from Perth.
“All but two of the Army members of TSE 77 are reservists, so along with one Navy reservist, some 59 of our 83 members are part time members of the ADF,” Major Colligan said.
“TSE deployments suit the philosophy of Plan Beersheba: if reservists are capable of performing the mission it becomes a Reserve task. Moreover, they allow reservists to bring non-military skills to the mission, along with the military skills they’ve developed through regular training.
“With TSE 77 members having an average of 43 days at sea, the highlight of our six month deployment would have to have been the opportunity for soldiers and sailors to work in a joint environment, gaining a greater understanding of each other’s work and roles.
“Of the 31 missions completed, 29 consisted of mixed Navy and Army teams, so the deployment was a great training opportunity, particularly for our junior leaders.”
One of the team leaders was Corporal Leonie Joyce, an Army Reserve Combat Medical Attendant and environmental engineer from Perth.
“It was a very interesting experience working alongside Navy personnel – being an Army medic I had never experienced that before,” Corporal Joyce said..
“There are a number of cultural differences when serving in a maritime environment, and when not engaged on maritime security functions we were fully integrated into the ship’s crew, involved in duty watches, line handling and ‘cleanos’.
“I enjoyed the experience, and have a new appreciation for how much you have to operate as a team to get the work done in a warship.”
Having handed over to TSE 78, the members of TSE 77 are now returning home, with full-time members returning to other duties while the Reserve members will return to civilian work and studies.