Saturday 3 June from 10:30am to 11:30am
Annual Patron's Lecture – Major General the Hon Justice Paul Brereton AM RFD
Since before Federation, the Bismarck Archipelago and the Solomon Islands have occupied an important place in Australian strategic thinking. On the outbreak of war in 1914, Australia moved swiftly to secure the German possessions in the Bismarck Archipelago through the AN&MEF. In 1942, the ill-fated Lark Force was deployed to defend Rabaul. Following the Japanese seizure of Tulagi and Guadacanal, fierce battles were waged on land, at sea and in the air to recapture the Solomon Islands, Bougainville, and New Britain.
More recently in the 2000s, Australian military forces were deployed to the Solomons for over a decade. After five years of ethnic tensions and a coup in 2000, the Solomons faced serious problems: law and order had broken down, corruption was widespread, the institutions of government had ceased to function, and basic services were not being delivered to the people. In response to a request from the Government of the Solomon Islands in 2003, the Regional Assistance Mission to Solomon Islands (RAMSI) was formed by Pacific nations, led by Australia, to help restore long-term stability and prosperity. The military component, known as Combined Task Force 635, was led by Australia and also comprised of personnel from New Zealand, Fiji, Papua New Guinea and Tonga. It was tasked with providing security and support for RAMSI’s multinational Participating Police Force.
Operation Anode (2003-2013) was the Australian Defence Force contribution to RAMSI. From 2006, Reservists – including troops drawn from the Royal New South Wales Regiment – made a significant contribution.
In this lecture our Patron, Major General the Hon Justice Paul Brereton AM RFD – who when Commander 5th Brigade was responsible for the preparation of two contingents for Operation Anode – will review Australian operations in the Solomons during the period 2003 to 2013, in their historical context, drawing on contemporaneous records and the reflections of some of the commanders.