Army rolls onto Kangaroo Island to assist with bushfire recovery

A convoy of Army vehicles, transporting about 100 Army Reservists and self-sustainment supplies arrived on Kangaroo Island today, Monday, January 6.

The Army will assist with various bushfire recovery needs and task, as directed by the emergency management team and the KI Council.

The Army Reservists are deploying as part of Operation Bushfire Assist at the request of the South Australian Government.

Their mission is to provide assistance to community recovery efforts on Kangaroo Island.

The convoy that departing from Keswick Barracks comprised of Protected Mobility Vehicles (PMVs), Unimogs and G-Wagons, in addition to 'white fleet' vehicles.

Brigadier Damian Cantwell, commander of the 9th Brigade Australian Army, said he surveyed the Island from the air with SA Premier Stephen Marshall on Sunday.

After which they both met with the emergency management team to discuss immediate needs.

The number one priority was to assist with provide the community with its needs for potable drinking water after the Middle River reservoir water treatment plant was badly damaged by the bushfire.

Large portable water filtration equipment capable of drawing water from dams and reservoirs and treating it on site was being sourced and should arrive in the next 24 hours.

The Army would also be assisting trucking water between various locations and had also brought with it a large supply of bottled water.

The operation was fully self sustained with its in catering unit, which can also feed emergency service personnel as required.

The bulk of the Reservists are general duty personnel whose first task on the Island was to dismantle and reinstall the existing 100-man emergency base from Parndana showground to the KI Airport near Kingscote.

The Army as well as visiting RFS brigades and other emergency services will all now be based in a new camp at the KI Airport.

Engineering reconnaissance teams would be assisting clearing roads as needed, while the general duty personnel will also assist with the disposal of dead stock as directed by PIRSA and as needed by farmers.

There was also a vet and biosecurity and hygiene experts to assist with the task of dealing with injured and dead animals, as well as first-aiders and a padre.

"We want to build on our capability and I am looking at 20 to 30 additional personnel on top of that," the Brigadier said. "We also have transport and communications personnel."

He is also appointing a high-ranking Colonel to be on the ground during the operation to provide leadership and lead liaising with the emergency management team and the council.

The Brigadier was keen to point out the Army was very much there to follow the lead of the emergency management team and was there to meet its needs as requested.