Updated at 9am

Providing direct support to the bushfire crisis is the Australian Defence Force's main effort. ADF support will continue for as long as required.

Personnel numbers 

  • About 2900 ADF personnel, including about 830 reservists, are supporting Operation Bushfire Assist.
  • About 43 international military personnel are supporting the bushfire response (see International support for more information).
  • The 43-person Indonesian Military Engineer contingent is scheduled to depart Australia on March 4 following completion of its support in the Blue Mountains region of NSW.

 

ADF support

  • Major General Justin ‘Jake’ Ellwood is the Emergency ADF National Support Coordinator, working in support of state and territory authorities.
  • A Rotary Wing Task Group (RWTG) has been operating since early January and has concluded operations with the Army MRH-90 redeploying to its home base in Townsville. ADF helicopters remain available at HMAS Albatross in Nowra should future support be required. 
  • Two Air Mobile Response Teams have redeployed from NSW to their home base in Adelaide to reconstitute as Army's high readiness contingency force. They have been replaced in NSW and the ACT by soldiers from the 7th Brigade.
  • ADF engineers and their equipment have shifted focus towards relief and recovery tasks in conjunction with state and local authorities.
  • Recovery efforts are focused on assisting state authorities to re-open roads, restore essential services, remediate fences for livestock control and deliver food, water and fodder to affected communities.

 

Victoria – Joint Task Force 646

  • The ADF has completed debris clearance of the Riley’s Ride track near Corryong. This track supports The Man from Snowy River Festival that attracts over 20,000 participants and spectators.  
  • The ADF will continue to support Victorian state and local government agencies throughout recovery operations as and where required. With the increased use of contracted companies in recovery efforts, the ADF has begun a redeployment of personnel and equipment that is no longer being requested to provide support. A contingency force, based on the Army’s 4th Brigade, will continue to be ready to provide recovery support upon request. The ADF remains embedded with state and local agencies to enable timely response to any emerging situation.

 

New South Wales and Australian Capital Territory – Joint Task Force 1110

 

  • Eurobodalla Botanic Gardens remediation remains at 95 per cent completion and is awaiting parts for a shade sail to be installed. The shade sail is expected to arrive in the coming days and is the last task required to remediate the gardens.

  • ADF support to the transportation of donated goods from Lavington and Holbrook to Taren Point is ongoing. Expected date of completion is March 2.

  • A water purification system was installed on February 18 to support water production to the Bega Valley Shire Council. The water purification system is providing up to 700,000 litres of drinking water each day and has produced about 3.5 million litres so far to the community. Water purification is expected to continue until March 6.

  • Forty-three engineers from the Indonesian National Armed Forces have completed route clearance activities in the Dargen and Clarence region of the Blue Mountains. The Indonesian contingent is conducting cultural activities and a decompression program before departing Australia on March 4.

  • A reopening ceremony for the Mogo Zoo will be conducted on February 29. The ceremony will include local community leaders and includes military representation to recognise the military support provided to remediate damaged enclosures. The Chief of the Defence Force and the Joint Task Force 1110 Commander are expected to attend, alongside the Indonesian Military Engineer contingent.

  • The ADF will continue to support NSW state and local government agencies. The Army’s 5th Brigade will continue recovery operations, whilst personnel and equipment that is no longer required, will begin movement back to home locations. The ADF remains embedded with state and local agencies.

South Australia and Tasmania – Joint Task Force 1111

  • ADF operations in the Adelaide Hills have now concluded as the community and businesses resume normal operations. The ADF remains postured to respond to any further requests in conjunction with the National Bushfire Recovery Agency and other government agencies. .
  • Engineers in Flinders Chase National Park continue with tree and route clearance, and the replacement of road signage in support of local agencies.
  • The ADF currently expects to complete its assigned tasks on Kangaroo Island by February 29.The ADF remains closely linked with the National Bushfire Recovery Agency, state and local authorities to ensure continuity of support as required.
  • The Army’s 9th Brigade remains closely linked and ready to support recovery operations if required by the South Australian Government or local authorities. 

 

 

Air transport support

  • Personnel and cargo movement continues across all states through RAAF mobility platforms such as the C-17 Globe master, C-130J Hercules and C-27J Spartan. 

 

Navy support

  • HMAS Canberra remains the designated humanitarian assistance vessel and is available to provide support if required. 

 

International assistance

  • ADF efforts are currently supported by 43 engineers from Indonesian National Armed Forces who arrived in Australia on February 2. The contingent has completed route and debris clearance in the Blue Mountains, and is now conducting cultural events and a decompression program. The contingent is scheduled to depart Australia on March 4.​​​​​​​

Previous international support included:

  • 54 Republic of Fiji Military Force engineers supported operations in the East Gippsland region in vicinity of Orbost following their arrival on January 18. The contingent has supported general recovery efforts with construction engineers and plant equipment operators in the Victorian-affected areas. The contingent departed Australia on February 26.
  • 99 Papua New Guinea Defence Force members – largely engineers – operated as part of JTF 646 in the Omeo region of Victoria. The Papua New Guinea contingent has concluded operations and departed Victoria on February 21. 
  • 10 United States Air Force members provided two cargo load teams who operated from RAAF Base East Sale. The United States contingent has concluded operations and the final personnel departed Australia on February 16. 
  • The Republic of Singapore Air Force (RSAF) contributed 40 members and two CH-47 Chinook helicopters on January 6. The RSAF contingent operated as part of the multi-national rotary wing task force and supported all JTFs with the movement of firefighters and the delivery of fodder, food and water to inaccessible areas. The RSAF contingent concluded their support on February 6 and returned to Singapore. 
  • The New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF) committed a total of 147 members to assist with the bushfire relief efforts in the ACT, VIC, NSW and SA between 6 January and 6 February 2020. NZDF personnel contributions included 25 firefighters, 35 combat engineers, 12 Air Dispatchers, 3 Enviro Health Teams, a Primary Health Care Team and a chaplain. Additionally, the NZDF contributed assets including a C-130H and crew as well as 3x NH-90 helicopters and crew. The last of the NZDF personnel and assets supporting bushfire relief efforts returned to New Zealand on February 6.
  • The Canadian Air Force (RCAF) provided a C-17 aircraft to deliver fire-retardant to RAAF Base Richmond on January 16. The RCAF further assisted in the redeployment of the New Zealand Defence Force contingent on February 4. The RCAF has since ceased support to bushfire relief efforts.

 

Defence base support

  • RAAF Base Richmond is providing a logistics hub and accommodation support to JTF 1110 personnel. 
  • ADF bases across the states have resumed normal operations and continue to provide food, accommodation and general logistics support to forces involved in Operation Bushfire Assist.​​​​​​​
  • As of February 27, more than 189,666 meals have been provided on Defence bases to emergency services personnel and evacuees.

Key facts

The following facts provide a snapshot of current ADF contributions to Operation Bushfire Assist (as of February 27):

  • Distance of roads cleared: 4848km
  • Distance of fences cleared/repaired: 1286.5km
  • Distance of firebreaks cleared: 240km
  • Total amount of water purified on Kangaroo Island: 3,880,000 litres
  • Total number of ground vehicles involved:
    • Victoria: JTF646 is operating more than 250 vehicles
    • NSW/ACT: JTF1111 is operating more than 400 vehicles
    • SA: JTF1110 is operating 333 vehicles
  • Cargo delivered: 
    • Water: 9,018,670 litres
    • Fuel (all types): 73,300 litres
    • Fodder: 1,344,075 kilograms
    • More than 76,262 meals have been provided on Defence bases to emergency services personnel and evacuees.

 

    For Defence images of the bushfire emergency support, go to:

    http://images.defence.gov.au/S20192970

    Videos of the ADF's continuing role in the bushfire crisis can be viewed via Department of Defence Australia's YouTube channel at:

    http://bit.ly/DefenceYoutube

    Stories related to Operation Bushfire Assist are available on the Defence News site at:

    https://news.defence.gov.au