Defence to review unit recognition for Somalia service

ADF personnel deployed in Somalia from 1993 may be recognised with a meritorious service citation, with Minister for Defence Personnel Darren Chester referring the matter for fresh consideration.

The independent Defence Honours and Awards Appeals Tribunal is set to reassess unit recognition for the service of Australian Defence Force personnel, deployed to Somalia in January 1993 in support of the Unified Task Force – Somalia (Unitaf).

Minister for Veterans Affairs and Minister for Defence Personnel Darren Chester requested the review after receiving representations from the 1st Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment Association, which called on officials to reconsider the initial determination made by the Tribunal in 2010.

“In 2009–10 the Tribunal broadly examined the issue of unit recognition for service in Somalia, however, the approach taken at the time focused on Defence’s internal consideration and whether there were any administrative errors in this consideration,” Minister Chester said.

“It did not focus on whether the service of the battalion group actually met the criteria for a unit citation.

“After representations from the ex-service community, I have decided to refer the matter to the Tribunal for fresh consideration to look specifically at the issue of unit recognition, particularly whether any units that served in Somalia should now be recognised with a meritorious unit citation for their service.”

ADF personnel from all three services were deployed to Somalia to help restore peace and security following an outbreak in violence, triggered by a humanitarian crisis.

The Tribunal will now consider the service of all ADF units that contributed to security efforts, having regard to the eligibility criteria for the Meritorious Unit Citation.

“It is important to our Somalia veterans to ensure their service is comprehensively and fairly considered, which the Tribunal will do through this new inquiry,” Minister Chester added.

Stakeholders are invited to lodge submissions to inform the inquiry, with representations due by 31 August 2021.

“I encourage anyone with an interest in the issue to ensure their views are heard,” Minister Chester concluded.

Related Article – Operation Solace

Australian soldiers prepare to board a United States Marine Corps helicopter in Somalia
ObjectiveAustralian peacemaking deployment to Somalia
OutcomeReduction in violence, Australian units left on their scheduled date