Australia – Command change for Solomon Islands military contingent

After a successful thirteen month rotation, Lieutenant Colonel David Thompson has handed over Command of the 240-strong military security contingent in support of the Regional Assistance Mission in the Solomon Islands (RAMSI) – known as Operation ANODE.

He handed over the reins to incoming Commander, Canberra-based Lieutenant Colonel Paul Landford, following the conduct of the National General Elections.

Lieutenant Colonel Thompson was the first Commanding Officer to undertake a twelve month deployment. A Western Australian Reservist from the Headquarters 13th Brigade at Irwin Barracks in Perth, he was responsible for three separate contingent rotations, involving four troop contributing nations.

He also oversaw RAMSI’s security support to the 2010 National General Elections in the Solomon Islands, working closely with the Participating Police Force and Royal Solomon Islands Police Force to ensure a comprehensive security plan was in place. Lieutenant Colonel Thompson coordinated additional support from the ADF, the New Zealand Defence Force and the Tonga Defence Service.

Lieutenant Colonel Thompson experienced a range of environmental challenges including tsunamis, earthquakes and floods. He also faced a number of security challenges such as civil unrest during his deployment. He said the opportunity to lead an overseas operation and work with other nations was a career highlight.

“I have experienced working with the four troop contributing nations including New Zealand, Papua New Guinea and Tonga and formed strong bonds with each of them,” Lieutenant Colonel Thompson said.

“To be able to command such a multi-national force has been an exciting challenge. It is amazing to be able to sit down and have a brew with a section from Tonga or Papua New Guinea and find that soldiers from all around the world are amazingly similar. ”

Lieutenant Colonel Thompson returned to Australia at the weekend.

Press release
Ministerial Support and Public Affairs,
Department of Defence,
Canberra, Australia

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