Only a few months after returning from Operation Bushfire Assist, 8th/9th Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment, has deployed once again in response to support authorities with the recent COVID-19 outbreak in Victoria.

At the request of the NSW Government, 120 unit soldiers were recalled from leave – many of whom travelled back to Gallipoli Barracks overnight – to quickly deploy and support NSW Police with virus containment and vehicle checkpoints on the Victorian border.

Within 12 hours of receiving the request, Bravo Company was en route to RAAF Base Amberley to fly to Victoria, stocked with ration packs and enough kit to sustain them at a series of remote border checkpoints.

Commander of the 7th Combat Brigade Brigadier Jason Blain gave encouraging words before the departure, reinforcing the importance of this kind of service to the Australian community. 

“The ADF exists to protect the nation, and what you’re about to do is protect the nation,” Brigadier Blain said. 

“When our citizens get to those border checkpoints they are going to see police, they’re going to see you, and they’ll know that you’re there to protect them.

“They know what you’ve done previously in supporting Victoria through this year’s bushfires.”

Brigadier Blain was also impressed with Bravo Company’s urgent and professional response to a last-minute national emergency request.

“I want to commend this battalion, and commend all of you on the way you have responded to this urgent task given to us by our government,” Brigadier Blain said. 

“I know some of you drove eight hours overnight to get here when you were recalled to move out this morning, you left what you were doing on leave and with your families to now take on this important task.

“You come from a fine battalion with a fine tradition, and an amazing heritage, you wear on your sleeve a path that represents a history of what this battalion has done in service to the nation.

“This is another chapter in that service to the nation.”

The 120 members of 8/9 RAR landed at RAAF Base Richmond that afternoon, and deployed to a series of border checkpoints the next morning, where they will stay in support of NSW Police for at least a month.