Change of Command for Operation Queensland Flood Assist
17 January 2011
Following the surge in ADF support to the civil-led response to the flood crisis inQueensland, Commander of Joint Task Force 637 Colonel Luke Foster, has handed over command to Brigadier Paul McLachlan, ADC, Commander of the Brisbane-based 7th Brigade. The formal transfer occurred this morning at 6am Brisbane time.
Chief of Joint Operations Command, Lieutenant General Mark Evans, said the significant increase in the ADF commitment to Operation QUEENSLAND FLOOD ASSIST and the nature of future ADF support necessitated a transfer of Command.
“Colonel Luke Foster, Commander of JTF 637, has spearheaded the initial ADF support to the flood relief effort in arduous circumstances,” Lieutenant General Evans said.
“I thank Colonel Foster for his leadership and the manner in which he directed his forces during this demanding period. I am aware that the lives of many Queenslanders have been saved by the actions of his Task Force.
“Colonel Foster will return to his regular role at Headquarters 1 Division in Brisbane and can be very proud of his exceptional performance during this time of crisis.”
Brigadier McLachlan is an experienced career soldier who has served with distinction in Iraq. Most of the dedicated personnel from the current ADF commitment will continue under his command, although there will be changes to the JTF over time to ensure the ADF contribution best meets the emerging needs of the recovery phase .
The clean up and recovery effort will focus largely on the engineering and manpower resources of 7 Brigade, together with specialist support from Air Force and Navy elements.
The clean up phase has already begun with soldiers from 7 Brigade units, as well as soldiers from Army’s Queensland based Reserve 11 Brigade, on the streets and in the suburbs of Brisbane helping to restore vital infrastructure such as roads, and assisting residents with the removal of property ruined in the floods.
Similarly, a task force of Air Force personnel based around the No 1 Airfield Defence Squadron augmented by other Amberley based units, with support from the Army’s 9th Force Support Battalion and 21st Construction Squadron, are assisting in the long clean up process in Ipswich.
Royal Australian Navy’s mine hunter, HMAS Huon is expected to arrive in Brisbane later today, to start work immediately on the clearance of debris from the Brisbane River and the shipping channels of Moreton Bay to enable the port to become fully functional again. Huon will be joined by the Navy’s Hydrographic Survey ships Shepparton and Paluma in the task.
Lieutenant General Evans said the clean-up phase will be demanding, and will continue for some time yet.
“I have the utmost confidence that Brigadier McLachlan, and the men and women under his command will continue the good work started by COL Foster. ADF personnel will continue to professionally, compassionately and effectively support the people of Queensland during this difficult time,” he said.
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