Wednesday, February 16, 2011


The Australian Defence Force (ADF) has drawn down its forces providing support to the Queensland emergency services-led response and recovery operations in the wake of Tropical Cyclone Yasi.
The members of Joint Task Force 664 are now returning to their home units as the cleanup and reconstruction situation in North Queensland moves into its next phase.
The rapid nationwide response following Cyclone Yasi saw approximately 1500 ADF personnel working to assist affected communities and the state emergency services. Personnel and equipment from the Navy, Army and Air Force provided manpower and specialist capabilities in response to the needs of the people of North Queensland.
The Commander of the Joint Task Force 664 leading the ADF’s Operation YASI ASSIST, Brigadier Stuart Smith, said that Australian Defence Force personnel had successfully completed the tasks requested of them by civilian authorities, including providing specialist support to emergency services personnel.
“Emergency services and public utilities have future restoration tasks well in hand for those areas hardest hit by the cyclone,” Brigadier Smith said.
Troops from Townsville are returning to their base to regroup for rapid response readiness, and some will be preparing for deployment to Afghanistan later this year.
Brigadier Smith said their families would welcome their return.
“Many personnel deployed to assist as the winds abated, and haven’t been home since the cyclone struck – they’ve really earned some time at home with their loved ones,” he said.
Brigadier Smith expressed his admiration for the tenacity of the North Queenslanders affected by the cyclone.
“The people of the region face a challenging time ahead, but as a community they will rebuild their homes, their communities and their lives. The resilience of the local people is outstanding – I greatly admire their spirit.”
The decision to draw down the ADF assistance came after close consultation with Emergency Management Queensland (EMQ), state authorities and local officials in the affected areas. EMQ continues to provide assistance to the communities devastated by the cyclone, and ADF specialist support will remain at local bases to assist emergency services if required.
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