Coalition forces – Tonga
Since 2003, with logistic support from Australia and New Zealand, Tonga has deployed police and military personnel to Solomon Islands as part of the Regional Assistance Mission to Solomon Islands (RAMSI).
In turn with Papua New Guinea and Fiji, Tonga rotates a platoon of TDS soldiers to Solomon Islands, as part of the Combined Task Force of military personnel, which protects the police deployed as members of the Particiupating Police Force.
In November 2007, Solomon Islands police began investigating an incident on the island of Malaita, where Tongan soldiers were alleged to have assaulted local youths. The incident raised the concern that RAMSI troops have immunity from prosecution in Solomon Island courts.
Contributing nation – Tonga, RAMSI website
“Tonga has provided police officers and military personnel to the Regional Assistance Mission to Solomon Islands since July 2003. One Tongan civilian adviser is working in a RAMSI-supported project. Tongan police are part of RAMSI’s Participating Police Force (PPF) and military officers from the Tongan Defence Force are deployed on a rotational basis as part of RAMSI’s military component.”
Press Conference, Minister for Foreign Affairs Stephen Smith MP, and Tongan Prime Minister Dr the Hon Feleti Sevele. 3 June 2009, Nuku’alofa.
“In addition of course to our bilateral relationship we work together very closely and strongly in the Region. We value very much Tonga’s counsel in the Pacific Islands Forum. We also work closely in RAMSI and we value that very much, not just Tonga’s participation and Ministerial oversight of RAMSI but also Tonga’s contribution to RAMSI.”
RAMSI – Tonga fact sheet, RAMSI website, November 2007
“Tonga has provided police and military personnel to RAMSI since July 2003. ….The 34-strong Fijifth Tongan military contingent arrived in August and will remain until December .”
RAMSI soldiers allegedly assault villagers, Solomon Star, 1 November 2007
“Tongan soldiers serving under RAMSI in north Malaita allegedly attacked and injured at least eight men in the Malu’u area last week. Reports say the soldiers reacted after unknown individuals threw stones at their camp at Manakwai village. Government Special Envoy to RAMSI, Michael Maina, last night confirmed receiving reports of the incident and says he’s investigating it.”
RAMSI Investigating Incident in Malu’u, RAMSI media release, November 2007
“RAMSI’s military contingent is conducting an investigation into events last week involving a platoon of Tongan soldiers on patrol in North Malaita. The events in question took place after the soldiers had been involved in assisting in the arrest of several local youths who had been wanted by police for sometime. Following this the soldiers had had rocks thrown on their camp, culminating in an attempt to break into the camp last Tuesday 23 October, which was intercepted by the soldiers.
“RAMSI Special Coordinator, Tim George, said all members of the Regional Assistance Mission were required to respect Solomon Islands law.
“…Lieutenant Colonel Upjohn said the RAMSI military is firm but fair and its members are subject to very strict rules of engagement and a disciplinary code: ‘We are now investigating the matter and if any misconduct is found, then the appropriate action will be taken,’ he said.”
Tongan platoon welcomed back to Solomon Islands, Media release, RAMSI website, 2 November 2006
“Thirty two soldiers from the Kingdom of Tonga joined the Regional Assistance Mission to Solomon Islands (RAMSI) this week. The Tongan platoon replaced a platoon from the Papua New Guinea Defence Force who have completed their rotation. The PNGDF contingent is expected to return to Port Moresby on 7 November on board an Australian Defence Force chartered aircraft….Military Commander, Lieutenant Colonel Jeff Quirk, said the Tongans would be part of the Combined Taskforce (RAMSI’s military contingent) for three months: ‘Tonga’s contribution to the military component of RAMSI is very welcome. In fact, this is the fourth rotation of Tongan soldiers. They will support the work of the Participating Police Force and the Solomon Islands Police Force. It’s helpful that some members of this platoon have served here before.’ ”
Sphinx smiles in Solomons, Cpl Andrew Hetherington, Army – the soldiers’ newspaper, Volume 11, No. 55, 2 November 2006
“[The ADF”s] 8/12 Mdm Regt is currently conducting force preparation and training for a Tongan force that would soon deploy to the Solomon Islands.
“The training is being conducted by 101 Mdm Bty and we are using the subject matter expertise they have just gained to train the Tongans,” Lt-Col Finney said. “The Tongans will be with us for a few weeks and will be going through a deliberate force preparation regime, with both individual and collective training.”
Tongan troops, Australian War Memorial (AWM) photograph
Tongan troops at Malu’u in northern Malaita, with Australian Army Aviation helicopter A2-279. They have been transported to Malu’u by UH-1H ‘Huey’ Iroquois helicopters, operated by No. 3 Squadron Royal New Zealand Air Force (RNZAF) and 171 Operational Support Squadron, 1st Aviation Regiment.
Tongan troops, Australian War Memorial (AWM) photograph
Four unidentified members of a Tongan platoon receiving snakebite training at Camp RAMSI near Honiara. Tonga, unlike the Solomon Islands, has no poisonous land snakes. The Tongan Defence Services contributed forty personnel to Operation Helpem Fren, a military and policing intervention that formed part of the Regional Assistance Mission to the Solomon Islands (RAMSI). The RAMSI badge is visible on the left-hand sleeve of the second-left soldier.