The Hon Michael McCormack MP
Minister for Veterans' Affairs
Minister for Defence Personnel
Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for the Centenary of ANZAC
Deputy Leader of the House
Federal Member for Riverina
TODAY marks the 25th anniversary of the commencement of Australia’s significant contribution to peacekeeping operations in Somalia, Minister for Veterans’ Affairs Michael McCormack says.
“In late 1992 a catastrophic humanitarian disaster compounded by a complete breakdown in civil order plunged Somalia into chaos,” Mr McCormack said.
“In response to the crisis Australia deployed forces from all three Services with the Australian contribution to the Unified Task Force – Somalia (Unitaf) arriving in Somalia in January 1993.
“Close to 1,000 personnel with land forces centred on the Army’s 1st Battalion, the Royal Australian Regiment (1RAR), with significant contributions from a number of other units. The Royal Australian Navy deployed HMAS Tobruk and HMAS Jervis Bay with both ships providing important logistical support.”
Mr McCormack said elements of the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) were used to move the Australian Forces to and from the conflict area and conducted regular resupply missions.
“RAAF personnel also served in Somalia as air traffic controllers and in airfield management roles and members of the Australian Army were deployed to the town of Baidoa about 240km north-west of Mogadishu in January 1993 where banditry and warlord intimidation were rife,” Mr McCormack said.
“Australians were successful at fostering and protecting humanitarian relief efforts and won international praise for their efforts in trying to restore law and order and re-establishing functional legal, social and economic systems.
“The lessons learnt from working with non-government organisations, building local security infrastructure and enabling local community governance continue to inform the Australian Defence Forces’ humanitarian and counter-insurgency operations today.”
Mr McCormack said more than 1,500 Australians served in Somalia from 1992–94, four were wounded or injured—and one Australian soldier—infantryman Lance Corporal Shannon McAliney was accidentally killed on 2 April 1993.
“We remember him especially today and pay tribute to his service and sacrifice. His efforts are particularly significant as Forbes, his birthplace, is in my Riverina electorate and has given mightily to the military efforts of this nation right back to the Second Boer War,” Mr McCormack said.
“I am pleased the Coalition Government has provided nearly $29,000 to assist 1RAR and the Australian Naval Association to commemorate this anniversary, Australia has a proud history of peacekeeping having participated in multinational peacekeeping operations since the first intervention in the Dutch East Indies in 1947.
“Our Defence Force has made a significant contribution to worldwide peace operations and today we recognise the peacekeepers who served in Somalia and those who continue to serve in countries around the world.”
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Veterans and Veterans Families Counselling Service (VVCS) can be reached 24 hours a day across Australia for crisis support and free confidential counselling. Phone 1800 011 046 (international: +61 8 8241 4546). VVCS is a service founded by Vietnam veterans.