The ADF remains committed to maintaining a meaningful contribution to non- emergency recovery operations as directed by Government.

The ADF remains postured to mobilise its forces quickly in response to emerging threats and emergencies. 

Personnel numbers 

  • About 200 ADF personnel, including about 100 reservists, are supporting Operation Bushfire Assist.
  • 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.
  • Three enhanced Emergency Support Forces:
  1. Victoria: Based on Army’s 4th Brigade, located at Simpson Barracks, Melbourne.
  2. New South Wales and the Australian Capital Territory: Based on Army’s 5th Brigade, located at Holsworthy Barracks, Sydney. 
  3. South Australia and Tasmania: Based on Army’s 9th Brigade, located at Keswick Barracks, Adelaide.
  • The ADF is working with local and state authorities to determine where support is most needed.


Victoria (4th Brigade)

  • ADF will continue to support Victorian state and local government agencies throughout recovery operations as and where required. A contingency force, based on the Army’s 4th Brigade, is ready to provide recovery support upon request. The ADF remains embedded with state authorities to enable timely response to any emerging situation.
  • The ADF will continue to work alongside state and local authorities to maintain the two military modular bridges installed at Buchan. The bridges will remain in place until around April 21, to support the Easter tourism season around the Buchan Caves region.


New South Wales and Australian Capital Territory (5th Brigade)

  • An Army water purification system was installed on February 18 to support water production to the Bega Valley Shire Council. With the resumption of normal council water purification, ADF on-site support has concluded. The water purification system produced approximately 6.1 million litres for the community. 
  • The ADF recently supported state and local authorities to assess damage on key routes in the Kempsey area. These assessments are informing whole-of-government options to repair roads that have been damaged as a result of the recent fires and flood events.
  • The ADF in conjunction with the NSW Rural Fire Service (NSW RFS) have conducted an assessment of fire damage impacts in the Hawksbury region of the Gospers Mountain Ranges. A second assessment was conducted on March 5, subdividing works in the region into nine areas. ADF chainsaw teams supported debris clearance between March 9 and 12.  

  • ADF elements have completed support to the movement of donated goods from Albury to Taren Point in conjunction with the NSW RFS.

  • 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 (9th Brigade)

  • ADF operations in the Adelaide Hills and on Kangaroo Island have now concluded. The ADF remains closely linked with the National Bushfire Recovery Agency, state and local authorities to ensure continuity of support to affected communities.
  • The Army’s 9th Brigade remains closely linked and ready to support further recovery operations if required by the South Australian Government.


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

International support to Operation Bushfire Assist has now concluded. Previous international support included:

  • 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 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 Japanese Self-Defense Force provided two C-130 Hercules aircraft and 71 personnel, who flew more than 85 hours in support of Operation Bushfire Assist. These aircraft and crew supported transportation of firefighting personnel, delivery of firefighting equipment and transfer of ADF elements across New South Wales, Victoria, South Australia and Tasmania. The contingent was based at RAAF Base Richmond. It began support to the operation on January 14 and departed Australia on February 9.
  • 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. 
  • 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.
  • 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. 
  • 43 engineers from Indonesian National Armed Forces arrived in Australia on February 2. The contingent has completed route and debris clearance in the Blue Mountains and departed Australia on March 4.
  • 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.


Defence base support

  • 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 March 4, more than 189,666 meals have been provided on Defence bases in support of Operation Bushfire Assist.


Key facts

The following facts provide a snapshot of current ADF contributions to Operation Bushfire Assist (as of March 12):

  • 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 amount of water purification at Bega: 6,100,000 litres
  • Total number of ground vehicles involved:
    • Victoria: JTF646 is operating more than 5 vehicles
    • NSW/ACT: JTF1111 is operating more than 50 vehicles
    • SA: JTF1110 is operating 5 vehicles
  • Cargo delivered: 
    • Water: 5,409,500 litres
    • Fuel (all types): 73,300 litres
    • Fodder: 1,344,075 kilograms
    • More than 77,262 meals have been provided on Defence bases to emergency services personnel and evacuees.


    For images of Operation Bushfire Assist, go to:

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