JTF633 supports Herc mercy dash
22 August 2014
A Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) C-130J Hercules aircraft has completed the most complex operational humanitarian air drop mission in more than a decade to save lives in northern Iraq.
The Hercules detachment deployed to Joint Task Force 633 at Al Minhad Air Base as part of Operation ACCORDION was rapidly reinforced with extra crews from 37 Squadron in response to a humanitarian crisis on Mt Sinjar, northern Iraq, where a group of civilians, most from the Yazidi minority, had fled to escape attacks by terrorist organisation the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant.
The mission on 13 August 2014 was planned and coordinated through Joint Task Force 633 including the logistical efforts of RAAF’s Combat Support Unit-11, Joint Task Force 633.2 (Air Component Command) and the Army’s 176 Air Dispatch Squadron (176 AD SQN) who deployed personnel to prepare the air cargo.
Air Commodore Noel Derwort, Deputy Commander Joint Task Force 633, said meticulous planning had gone into the mission and he was not surprised by its success.
“The entire Joint Task Force had been focused on ensuring we could deliver critical humanitarian aid to the people stranded in northern Iraq,” he said.
“Not only did the Air Force, Navy and Army personnel from JTF633 work together to produce a successful mission, we also achieved it while also balancing our need to support personnel in Afghanistan as well as coordinating a visit from the Prime Minister and Chief of Defence Force.
“The fact we could carry out all these tasks concurrently speaks volumes of the professionalism and skills of our people.”
The mission delivered 10 bundles of critical supplies to people trapped on Mount Sinjar by encircling ISIL forces.
The cargo included 150 boxes of high energy biscuits and 340 boxes of bottled water – enough to sustain 3,700 people for 24 hours.
The operational air drop was the first mass air delivery of humanitarian cargo since the outbreak of violence in Timor Leste in 1999.
The Australian Hercules was one of a 16-aircraft package including USAF C-17s and C-130Hs and a British C-130J to respond to the humanitarian disaster.
Prime Minister Tony Abbott and Chief of the Defence Force Air Chief Marshal Mark Binskin inspected the loaded aircraft and also the work of 176ADSQN personnel hours before the mission, during a whistle-stop tour of the base.