ADF units recognised for 1990s service in Somalia
Photo: Defence Connect
Australian Defence Force personnel have been recognised with a Meritorious Unit Citation for their service in Somalia in the 1990s.
Four UNOSOM Australian Service Contingents ASC I, ASC II, ASC III and ASC IV, the 1st Battalion Royal Australian Regiment Group, and HMAS Tobruk have all been honoured as recommended by the independent Defence Honours and Awards Appeals Tribunal and accepted by the Australian government.
The Tribunal recommended the award for each ADF unit because of their sustained outstanding service in warlike operations while deployed in Somalia between 1992 and 1995.
The citation decision was announced on 18 April this year on the 30th anniversary of ADF operations in Somalia.
Minister for Veterans’ Affairs and Defence Personnel Matt Keogh said it is fitting these individuals receive the recognition they have long advocated for.
“I have accepted the Tribunal’s recommendations and have informed the Governor-General,” Minister Keogh said.
“The Meritorious Unit Citation will recognise the service, contribution, and sacrifice made by those ADF members that were deployed in Somalia. I express my deepest gratitude to all those who served.
“Service in Somalia represented the ADF’s largest land and sea operation since Australia’s involvement in the Vietnam War.
“I thank the Tribunal for their work and those who have advocated for this unit recognition.
“As we approach Anzac Day, I encourage all Australians to acknowledge and pay tribute to all our service personnel who have engaged in conflict, peacekeeping or humanitarian operations, they each embody the spirit of the Anzac.”
Around 1,600 ADF personnel were deployed in peacekeeping missions to Somalia in the 1990s as the East African country experienced widespread famine caused by drought and civil warfare.
Forty-one Australian troops were initially deployed under Operation Iguana in a United Nations operation called UNOSOM and an Australian 1,000-soldier battalion was later committed from 1992 to 1993, the largest overseas deployment by the ADF since the Vietnam War.
One hundred seventy Australian troops were also sent in a second UNOSOM II operation from 1993 to 1995.
The UN noted heavily armed groups in Somalia were looting supplies, disrupting distribution points, and preventing delivery of humanitarian aid during the conflict.
UNITAF, a coalition force of UN members under US command was sent to protect the supplies, with the Australian government contributing HMA Jervis Bay, HMA Tobruk naval vessels, No. 817 Squadron Fleet Air Arm, and more than 1,200 people under Operation Solace 1993.
The UN peacekeeping mission ended in Somalia in 1994 with ongoing civil conflict. Australia withdrew troops from the country from 1993 to 1996.
The Australian government will make an announcement later this year on how current and former ADF members can receive the insignia of the Meritorious Unit Citation.