A team of 34 personnel from No. 381 Contingency Response Squadron (381CRS) is working in Balikpapan, Indonesia, in support of Operation Indonesia Assist 18 (IA18).
The CRS is responsible for providing support to the air bridge between Australia and Indonesia and the movement of humanitarian assistance and disaster relief stores between Balikpapan and Palu.
The Commanding Officer of 381CRS, Wing Commander Melissa Neilson, said the squadron was a vital enabler in IA18.
“The role of the CRS is to provide airfield operational support at Balikpapan Airport to support the reception and forwarding of aid in support of international humanitarian operations,” Wing Commander Neilson said.
“All personnel involved in IA18 are honoured to be able to assist the people of Indonesia and have been working very hard to achieve the operational objectives of the mission.
“We are also integrating with and supporting our coalition and ASEAN partners who are also conducting intra-theatre lift of international aid from Balikpapan to Palu.”
The Executive Officer of 381CRS, Squadron Leader Trent Mcintosh, said the contingency response team consisted of RAAF members from a range of jobs who formed to provide a scalable, rapid and responsive expeditionary capability.
“For this operation, the CRS consists of personnel from base operations, logistics, administration, security, ground and aviation safety, health and communications,” Squadron Leader Mcintosh said.
“Every mission has its own initial operating and full operating procedures, which are defined through the planning process.
“This allows the CRS to be ultimately flexible in the application of its support.”
Having been in location for less than a week, the focus has been the planning, preparation and delivery of humanitarian aid from Balikpapan to Palu. This involves support to C-130 operations to ensure humanitarian aid is loaded, transported and delivered in a safe and efficient manner.
During the team’s time in location, there has been significant interaction with the Indonesian community.
“At Balikpapan, we have liaised with the Indonesian Disaster Management Agency and the airport and ground management staff,” Squadron Leader Mcintosh said.
“In Palu, interactions have been with our air support operations team, air movements personnel and interpreters as the aircraft lands to coordinate the offloading of stores,” he said.
He said that the CRS had proudly represented the RAAF during IA18.
“The squadron has been involved in a large number of activities leading up to our online period, investing significant time in both individual and collective training,” he said.
“I have been impressed with the team’s ability to apply what they have learnt to a real-life humanitarian assistance situation, anticipating and adapting to an ever-changing environment.”