A recent visit to Solomon Islands by the Commander of the Deployable Joint Force Headquarters has highlighted how much of an impact the Solomons International Assistance Force is having in the Pacific nation.  

Commander of the Deployable Joint Force Headquarters, Major General Scott Winter, met with Australian Defence Force and Pacific forces personnel assigned to the Solomons International Assistance Force in Honiara.

Major General Winter said the visit reinforced the strength of the Pacific family and how much the operation means to the people of Solomon Islands.

“This visit was a timely opportunity to get forward and see the great work being done on the ground in Honiara by our troops and those of the Pacific family,” Major General Winter said.

“I am extremely proud of the achievements of our people in Solomon Islands, just as I am of those who are engaged across the region in our many cooperation activities.

“The drive, passion and enthusiasm of our soldiers, sailors and aviators to take on any and all tasks and to develop great friendships based on mutual trust is inspirational and, while I am not surprised, it is always great to see it in action.

“Solomon Islands is a great friend and neighbour.

“We have a long history together, with shared struggles in World War II and the incredible cooperation and shared journey of the Regional Assistance Mission to Solomon Islands highlights how far we have come together.

“All those who spend time in the beautiful landscape of Solomon Islands and get to know the warm-hearted people here develop deeper links to the region.”

Part of the ADF’s work under Operation Lilia is conducting a small boat handlers course for the Royal Solomon Islands Police Force, enhancing the current capability of its Maritime Division.

“Travel by boat is critical to getting about the islands, and it will be great to share some of the skills and training we have developed in the Australian Army in recent years with our Royal Solomon Islands Police Force colleagues,” Major General Winter said.

“Of course, this will certainly support the development of the Maritime Division’s small boats capability, however, it also represents mutually beneficial training for our team as they learn some local tips and draw on the Solomon Islands police experiences.”

Commander of the Australian Deployable Joint Force Headquarters, Major General Scott Winter, centre, with Australian, Fijian and New Zealand military personnel from the Solomons International Assistance Force in Honiara, Solomon Islands. Photo: John Beasley

For those on the ground in Honiara, meeting the contingent commander was symbolic of their efforts so far.

Army telecommunications technician Signaller Jane Harse said she gained a lot from Major General Winter's visit.

“It was fantastic to see the commander on the ground with us,” Signaller Harse said.

“Being able to share our experiences with him was a definite highlight. 

“I’ve been in-country for three months and I feel very lucky to be able to do my job in another country and experience the culture that Solomon Islands has to offer. 

“Having reliable and sustainable communications with all of our Pacific partners is a priority. 

“We achieve this through high-speed trusted network links.

“Each day we learn from each other and share our knowledge to pursue a common goal.

“It’s been particularly rewarding working with Solomon Islands personnel as they have been so welcoming and have treated us as their family.

“The work we are doing in Solomon Islands is extremely important. 

“Since 2003, Australia has worked with Solomon Islands and our Pacific partners to focus on supporting stability, enabling economic growth and enhancing human development. 

“This operation is no different and I am proud to be involved.”