Reserve involvement in Op COVID-19 ASSIST

By LCDR Brett Lane

More than 2200 Reserve personnel have been directly involved in the first 10 weeks of the ADF’s expanded contributions in support of the whole-of-government action to address the impacts of COVID 19.

This represented almost half the total Navy, Army and Air Force personnel assigned to Joint Task Force 629 and its state and territory-based joint task groups (JTG) for Operation COVID-19 Assist.

Sixty per cent of the more than 3400 involved from Army were Reservists, with smaller proportions for Navy and Air Force.

The ADF has been assisting state and territory governments with customised support to reinforce, amplify and expand their capacity to deal with the impacts of COVID-19.

The support has included involvement in liaison, planning, logistics, quarantine management, contact tracing and police control points.

In WA, the Commander of JTG629.6, Brigadier Peter Moore, and his Navy deputy, Captain Brian Delamont, are Reserve members.

BRIG Moore said Reserve personnel of all ranks, bolstered by Navy permanent personnel in the early stages, were the nucleus of the WA-based task group which peaked at 377 in early April.

“The task group was largely formed around 13th Brigade but there’s been truly a joint contribution to the more than 520 people assigned here so far, really demonstrating what the Total Workforce System is all about,” he said.

“The response from the State Government has been very positive because the civilian and military skills we’ve brought from right across the ADF have been useful in helping it to deliver what it requires.

“Our people have been able to demonstrate how the ADF can not only just advise and assist, but also support in delivering measured effects in multi-dimensional and multi-dilemma contexts.”

BRIG Moore said an important emphasis had been on building relationships with an end-state goal of enhanced reputation for the ADF and its Reserve personnel.

Minister for Defence, The Honorable Linda Reynolds, CSC, visited the WA Government’s State Health Incident Coordination Centre (SHICC) in Perth in early June and met JTG629.6 Reservist ADF liaison officers Lieutenant Commander Jack Forbes, Major Kim O'Grady and Flight Lieutenant David Farrell.

FLTLT Farrell, of 25 Squadron, has had his feet firmly on the ground supporting the SHICC planning team when he ordinarily would have been in the air as a Qantas first officer in the right-hand seat of a 737 aircraft.

Like other ADF liaison officers, his involvement has grown since initial tasking in April which included planning for possible use of RAAF aircraft to support evacuation of COVID-19 patients from isolated areas of WA. He is now working alongside task group members and WA Health staff in the planning team which prepares response plans for COVID-19.

“I’ve enjoyed working at the SHICC, mostly because of the people I’ve met and worked with,” FLTLT Farrell said.

“Being a Reservist in a role like this, after 13 years of permanent service, gives me a sense of purpose and belonging in a dynamic space.

“The many liaison officers I have been in contact with around Australia for JTF629 have either been former COs of units I’ve been at, aircrew that I have flown with or personnel from support units that I worked with.”

Minister for Defence, The Honorable Linda Reynolds, CSC, speaks with Flight Lieutenant David Farrell and Lieutenant Commander Jack Forbes and Major Kim O'Grady during a recent visit to the Western Australian State Health Incident Coordination Centre.


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Last update: Wednesday, 15 July 2020

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