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Op Padang Assist
AIR FORCE October 29, 2009
ADF assistance to the earthquake-
impacted area of Indonesia continued
as life in Padang slowly returned to nor-
mal two weeks after the earthquake.
As a result, the focus for the assist-
ance changed from providing emergency
response to medium-term relief opera-
By October 17, ADF assets had deliv-
ered medical treatment, fresh drinking
water and tonnes of humanitarian aid into
the Padang region.
The ADF teams quickly established
themselves in the city and outlying areas
to assess medical and engineering needs.
The first Commander Joint Task Force
629, LTCOL Neil Sweeney, said the
advance team had made a big difference.
"The ability of our people to get on
the ground quickly and provide informed
advice about what the people [there]
needed is a credit to their professional-
ism," LTCOL Sweeney said.
Since then, approximately 110 Air
Force personnel have undertaken a huge
air lift operation to ensure essential relief
workers and supplies reach the region.
They include air load teams and three C-
130s with two Hercules based in Jakarta
and one in Darwin.
By October 14, the C-130s had flown
more than 50 sorties between Jakarta and
Padang, carrying more than 230 tonnes
Additionally, the Air Force air load
team assisted unloading nearly all foreign
military and chartered civilian aircraft
that have flown emergency aid to the
FLTLT Paul Kretschmann, the OIC of
one team, said it had been hard work but
they had achieved a lot.
"In the first week, we unloaded 250
tonnes of cargo from over 100 ADF, for-
eign military and charter aircraft," FLTLT
"The team supported aircraft from
Indonesia, the US, UK, Malaysia, Japan,
Thailand and Singapore."
Loadmaster SGT Matthew Warnock
said everything from vehicles to food,
water and blankets had been flown in by
the aircrew and unloaded by the teams.
"We've been flying two sorties a day
into the airfields at maximum capacity,
so the aircraft have pretty much been
maximum weight or bulked out with the
pallets," he said. "We've been taking
11,300kg a trip into Padang."
The present task force commander,
COL Mark Brewer, said the team had
provided a mission critical role at the
"Our mission could not have pro-
ceeded without the tireless work of the
small Air Force air load teams, as well as
the pilots and loadmasters who worked
around the clock flying in and unload-
ing not just our equipment, but the large
amount of aid that has been essential to
other aid agencies that have arrived in
Padang," he said.
Meanwhile, Army and Air Force engi-
neers inspected government buildings to
assess the levels of structural damage and
determine what remedial and repair work
should be done. By October 17, they had
completed 63 assessments, enabling the
UN Development Program to commence
demolition or reconstruction of those
found to be structurally sound.
In Seigeringging, the Primary Health
Care Team had treated more than 500
patients and begun an outreach program
to regional villages.
WORD OF ADVICE: Above, CPL Matthew Trovato
from 1AOSS discusses stores movements with
CAPT Suspan Setiawan of the Indonesian Air
Force and Senior Airman Stephanie Pinzino from
the USAF air load team at Padang's Minangkabau
VIP DELIVERY: Left, Minister for Foreign Affairs
Stephen Smith is greeted at Padang airport after
arriving in the country by C-130. The Minister met
ADF, Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, and
AusAID personnel who are busy working on the
earthquake relief effort before meeting with the
governor of West Sumatra. He also viewed the city
from a Navy Seaking.
Photos: CPL Guy Young
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