Defence Connect: ADF wraps up COVID-19 border operation

Australian Defence Force personnel and reservists have completed their patrol of the border between NSW and Victoria as part of Operation COVID-19 Assist.

Joint Task Unit 629.1.3 has completed Operation COVID-19 Assist on the border of NSW and Victoria after inspecting approximately 4 million vehicles.

Over 1,200 Australian Defence Force personnel, which included reservists, served for a combined total of 41,000 ADF days at 20 checkpoints.

Lieutenant Colonel Andrew White, Commander of the Joint Task Unit 629.1.3, lauded the efficiency of ADF personnel.  

 “I received a call from my command on Monday, July 6, telling me the NSW-Victoria border was being shut and I was asked if I could lead the operation to help police operate the checkpoints,” he said.

“I arrived in Albury two days later with my leadership team.

“Within a matter of days, we had deployed hundreds of personnel alongside NSW police officers.”

The task force was made up of five companies — Navy, Air Force, regular Army infantry, the Army Logistics Training Centre (ALTC) and Army Reserve.

Major Bruce Murfin from the ALTC’s Army School of Health, who led the Joint Task Unit’s A Company out of Albury, said the operation was challenging.

“We didn’t know what we didn’t know,” he said.

“The rules were changing by the hour, and many personnel hadn’t worked in this kind of environment, supporting civilian law enforcement before.”

Weather conditions were also reportedly challenging, with some regions recording their biggest snow falls in 10 years.

LTCOL White thanked the local community for their support during the operation.

“Our members received gifts of food, snacks, thank-you cards and banners, and even firewood to keep us warm on those bitterly cold nights,” he said.

“The gifts were a heartfelt gesture and deeply appreciated by all of us.”

The overall commander of Operation COVID-19 Assist in NSW, Brigadier Mick Garraway, thanked personnel for their work.

“The success of this operation is not only due to the capability and leadership of our Defence Force personnel, it’s also due to the strong, positive relationships that we’ve built with NSW Police and the local community,” he said.

“I want to express my appreciation to all involved.”

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