Operation Bursa Recognition

Operation Bursa was the counter-terrorist operation which commenced in 1980 to defend the Bass Strait oil and gas platforms against potential terrorist attack. 

Navy provided air support to Special Forces (SF) operations from the commencement of Op Bursa, until the task was handed over to Army Aviation in 1990.  While eligible Army personnel were granted the ASM for Op Bursa, recognition of the contribution of Fleet Air Arm personnel was denied. This situation has now been rectified.

This web page gives readers background information, advice on eligibility of FAA veterans and the process of applying for the award.

Background

In March 2011, the Governor General approved the award of the Australian Service Medal with clasp Counter Terrorism/Special Recovery (ASM-CT/SR) for designated Special Forces personnel engaged in Operation Bursa.  This also included Army Aviation personnel in support of SF activity.

Requests to have Navy personnel included under the same guidelines as Army Aviation were denied.  A key reason for this was Army Aviation units were “force assigned” to the support of SF, while Navy was not; although the tasking and commitment were largely the same.  To address this inequity, a small group of dedicated aviators, under the guidance of CDRE Brett Dowsing, set about establishing criteria which could validate the award for Navy.  This was ultimately successful, with approval finally signed in October 2020.

Eligibility 

The eligibility requirements include Navy personnel, or allied foreign Defence Force members, who:

  1. served 60 consecutive or more days on Operation Bursa (a member who did not complete 60 consecutive days due to death, illness, injury or disability due to service in Op Bursa will be deemed to have completed 60 days)
  2. have not been awarded another medal for operational service over the same period;
  3. were qualified on aircraft type (Wessex 31B or SK-50A/B);
  4. were posted to one or more of the following Squadrons during the periods designated:
    • HC723 Squadron (1Aug80 to 9Feb84)
    • HU816 Squadron (9Feb84 to 1Nov86)
    • HS817 Squadron (1Nov86 to 31Dec89)

The 60 consecutive days qualifying period includes deployment, training and while on a reduced Notice-To-Move (NTM) (generally less than four hours) in support of Op Bursa. This award includes all personnel who meet the eligibility criteria.

Periods attached to a ship’s Flight, deep maintenance units not on a reduced NTM, or while on course are NOT counted in the qualifying requirements. 

You can read the relevant Regulation here

How To Apply 

You will need to apply for this Award, if you believe you are eligible.  

The previous on-line form at this website is no longer available. 

Applications must be made by downloading the .pdf form from here, filling it out manually and scanning/emailing it to the Op. Bursa recognition team at op.bursa@defence.gov.au.  If you prefer you can post it to the address given on the form.  In either case your application must contain the form and supporting documentation. 

Before you do that please read this page carefully and gather your evidentiary documentation to attach to your application. 

Verifiable evidence is essential for the processing of any application in order to maintain the integrity of the Honours and Awards system. Applicants are required to provide evidentiary documentation which will show:

  1. Qualification in role (qualified as aircrew in the CT role or qualified to maintain the designated aircraft), and
  2. Posting dates to the designated unit.

To expedite the Awards as much as possible, submissions will be processed in batches rather than as a “job lot”.

Documentation Requirements

The following types of personal documentation are to be provided with your emailed/posted application to support your claim:

Aircrew.  Scans of Flying Log Book pages showing qualification on the designated aircraft, training for the Op Bursa role and participation in exercises at East Sale or Nowra over as long a period as possible that complies with the qualification requirement. 

Maintainers. Scans of any suitable documentation such as Record of Training and Employment and posting record that indicates qualification and employment on the aircraft type while engaged in Op. Bursa, over the period that complies with the qualification requirement. 

Due to the period of time under consideration, Navy records may not be readily accessible or contain the required detail, so it is necessary to rely on personal records in the first instance.  This information will be cross-referenced with any available Navy records. In cases where you don’t have personal records, contact the project team to seek advice. 

If you need to access your old records from Defence, email ADF.Records@defence.gov.au with your request. 

Communication

Please spread the word to your mates about the Op Bursa ASM project, where to get information and how to apply. The project team is currently working part time, and will respond to your emails as soon as practicable. 

The team is:

CAPT Andrew Whittaker
LCDR Murray Lindsay

The email address to send your application and supporting documentation is: op.bursa@defence.gov.au. Please note that the team will be off-line during the Reduced Activity Period 18 Dec 20 – 18 Jan 21. 

Application Form

The application form can be downloaded here:  Application Form

 


Remembering:

LSA Gary Macey and CPL James Campbell (RAAF)
Killed in the crash of Wessex 825 in Bass Straight, 4 December 1983.