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December 10, 2009
By WO2 Graham McBean
CDFACM Angus Houston has slammed
media reports of widespread illicit drug
use by ADF personnel deployed to
Afghanistan as baseless.
The reports claimed soldiers were
"returning home as addicts" despite
Defence information provided that no
ADF member had tested positive to
drugs in Afghanistan since tests began
The ADF has a no-drug policy and
By WO2 Graham McBean
WHEN LCDR Scott Mason
arrived in Honiara in 2007
he thought he would be in the
Solomon Islands for a single
As he enters his fourth year
(which he expects to be his last) in
2010, the Maritime Surveillance
Adviser says he liked the job so
much he decided to stay on.
Together with his Technical
Advisor CPO Daniel Dingle, the
two Australians provide assist-
ance to the Royal Solomon
Islands Police Force (RSIPF)
LCDR Mason said that, while
a lot of people consider it to be
a cushy job in paradise, it was
a busy billet -- but one that also
was immensely satisfying.
pleasure working with the RSIPF
Maritime Unit," LCDR Mason
"They are a great bunch of
people and we enjoy coming to
work every day."
The Australian sailors' main
role is to advise and assist where
necessary in the capability devel-
opment of the RSIPF Maritime
Unit's two patrol boats, RSIPV
Auki and Lata.
Under the Defence
Cooperation Program, 22 Pacific
Patrol Boats were built and gift-
ed to 12 Pacific nations between
1987 and 1997.
LCDR Mason said the capa-
bility in Solomon Islands had
developed steadily over the last
He cited an upgrade of the
Another busy day in paradise
By SGT Andrew Hetherington
"WHAT we have in the MRH90
are the latest and best operating
systems we can get for military
MAJ Richard Garvey, pilot
and senior instructor of MRH90
pilot training, used these words to
describe the aircraft after his fly-
ing visit to Russell Offices on
The visit gave ADF, APS and the
public a closer look at the aircraft
that will revolutionise Navy and
Army aviation from 2010.
A new standout feature of the
aircraft is the TopOwl Helmet
Mounted Sight Display (HMSD),
which allows pilots to fully utilise
night vision, a pilotage forward
looking infra red (FLIR) camera and
a heads-up display.
Use of this technology incor-
porated into the clear visor of the
helmet allows pilots to minimise
head-down time to view cockpit
The aircraft also has a weather
radar that, used in conjunction with
the FLIR camera, night vision and a
digital map generator, allows crews
to operate in more reduced weath-
er conditions than what they could
with the Sea King and Black Hawk.
Successful maritime trials were
conducted in HMAS Manoora
off the coast of Tasmania during
October and November where it
was found to be much more stable
and easier to handle than some in-
The first of the 46 aircraft are
expected to enter service with Navy
in mid-2010 and with Army later in
operations room and communi-
cations technology completed last
year as a prime example.
2009 was also a milestone for
the RSIPF Maritime Unit's first
female to join the Maritime Unit
(in 2008). She became the first
woman from the Solomon Islands
to attend the Australian Maritime
College in Launceston.
It was the first time Police
Constable Fatima Aoraunisaka
had been outside of Solomon
Islands. She attended the college
for her Basic Engineering and
Level 1 Engineering courses.
Apart from being too cold, she
said it was a great professional
opportunity and the Tasmanian
people had welcomed her.
"I have wanted to do engineer-
ing since I was child," Fatima said.
"The college and the lecturers
were very professional and it has
assisted me greatly with my job."
The Maritime Unit's next
big project is to return Auki to
Australia next year for its six-
month life extension program,
which will extend her life out
to another 10 years patrolling
Solomon Islands waters.
GREAT JOB: CPO Damien Dingle, left, Royal Solomon Islands
Police Maritime Unit officer Fatima Aoraunisaka and LCDR Scott
Mason tend to business while the RSIPF Patrol Boat Auki is along-
side at Honiara police wharf, Solomon Islands.
Photo: WO2 Graham McBean
IMPRESSIVE: A stormy day in the nation's cap-
ital didn't stop the MRH90 landing at Russell
Offices on November 27, giving ADF, APS and
members of the public the opportunity to check
out the chopper first-hand.
Photo: SGT Andrew Hetherington
The ADF has a no-
drug policy and has
discharged 373 ADF
members under its
prohibited drug testing
program since testing
began in 2005.
has discharged 373 ADF
members under its pro-
hibited drug testing pro-
gram since testing began
in 2005 and through
other means where drug
use was found.
A Defence statement
said a detailed response
was provided to the journalists responsi-
ble and "deplores the fact that they chose
to omit much of the information provid-
ed to them in search of a headline".
"On the basis of these results the
story is completely baseless," ACM
Young Diggers president John Jarrett
was quoted widely throughout the article
syndicated in News Limited papers.
The ADF has invited Mr Jarrett to
provide details of soldiers allegedly
undergoing difficulties to enable Defence
assistance to be provided as its funda-
mental duty of care.
To date, Mr Jarrett has refused to
More than 35,000 tests have been
conducted on ADF members under the
prohibitive drug testing program between
June 16, 2005 and August 31, 2009 in
Australia and overseas on operations.
A recent review increased the ADF
testing rate from 10 per cent to 25 per
cent and 100 per cent of initial train-
ees, similar to other
Western armed forces.
The average rate
of positive results has
been 1.54 per cent.
That rate has dropped
to 0.98 per cent during
the current fiscal year
(July to August 2009).
In a formal response to newspa-
pers that published the article, Director
General Public Affairs BRIG Brian
Dawson said Defence had forwarded the
journalist the correct and up-to-date sta-
tistics requested on November 20.
He said no evidence suggested multi-
ple deployments may contribute to drug
use on Australian bases and preventive
measures were in place to reduce the
likelihood of an ADF member using illic-
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