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Annual Report 2013-14

Feature articles

Operation Philippines Assist

Photograph of four Defence Force personnel pushing a large container of equipment up a ramp onto a military airplane.

Members of No 1 Airfield Operations Support Squadron load an RAAF C-17 Globemaster with Australian Medical Assistance Team equipment at Tacloban during Operation Philippines Assist

In late 2013, the ADF again answered an urgent call for international assistance, this time in the Philippines.

On 8 November 2013, Typhoon Haiyan, known locally as Yolanda, made landfall in the Eastern Visayas region. The United Nations reported that Haiyan had affected around 14 million people and displaced an estimated 4 million. The typhoon was the strongest to hit the Philippines during 2013 and is considered one of the worst in recorded history.

The ADF response began in the immediate aftermath. The RAAF provided air logistic support to the Australian Medical Assistance Team, transporting essential medical personnel and equipment via C-17 and C-130 transport aircraft from Darwin to Ormoc in the Philippines. Logistic resupply was provided until the return of the team in December 2013.

A follow-up recovery support force focused on humanitarian assistance activities in the vicinity of Ormoc and the surrounding area. The Navy’s HMAS Tobruk transported ADF personnel and equipment to the region and then distributed humanitarian supplies to remote islands.

The Army’s response was comprehensive and wide-ranging. Deployed personnel repaired 16 schools and more than 180 classrooms, removed 1,302 cubic metres of debris, repaired 78 roofs, conducted hazard reduction and plumbing works, assisted the redeployment of non-government organisation personnel, supported the World Food Programme distribution centre, provided assessments in support of the United Nations and Philippines Government recovery effort, and fostered strong relationships with the local population, local government departments and the Armed Forces of the Philippines.

Meanwhile, the RAAF continued air logistic support by transporting over two tonnes of cargo, transferring about 5,000 people—including 3,300 internally displaced persons—and providing air traffic and ground support services at Mactan.

Most ADF elements returned to Australia by 21 December 2013. The contribution was considered a success on the basis of its impact and immediate support to an area devastated by the disaster. The Philippines Government has formally acknowledged the Australian support, including by presenting participating personnel with Military Civic Action medals.