Commander who led Tonga’s first Afghan contingent retires

Naval Captain Sātisi Vunipola, the former commander of Tongan first troops in Afghanistan, has formally retired from His Majesty’s Armed Forces.

In 2011 Vunipola oversaw 55 Tongan soldiers who were based in the Helmand Province for six months,  alongside  20,000 other British troops and US Marines.

They were tasked with protecting the boundaries of the Camp Bastion.

For 39 year of service for the government of Tonga Vunipola enlisted in His Majesty’s Armed Forces (HMAF) on September 4, 1977.

He has been holding the appointment of Assistant Chief of the Defence Staff Support Command since 2013.

Captain (Navy) S Vunipola has held various Command and Staff postings within HMAF.

He was the Officer Commanding (OC) of Lotuma in 1985 and was appointed as Officer Commanding (OC) of Masefield Base in 1986.

He was posted to Ha’apai as the OC of Velata Naval Base in 1989. In 1994 to 1997 he was the Commanding Officer (CO) of VOEA Savea and in 1999, he was the CO of VOEA Neiafu. Captain Vunipola was appointed as the CO of the Navy in 2001 and in 2003 he was appointed as the Component Commander (CC) of Logistic Support Group and Administration of HMAF.

He graduated from the Officer Cadet Training School in Waiouru, New Zealand in 1979 and was commissioned as Second Lieutenant in the Land Force on 20 August 1980.

He attended various courses in Australia, New Zealand, Fiji and the United States of America.

He is a graduate of the Australian Naval Command and Staff College in Australia in 1998. He undertook Security Studies Executive course at the Asia Pacific Center for Security Studies in year 2000.

In 2002, he undertook Defence Management course at Monterey, USA. He held a post graduate Diploma in Management from the Queensland University of Technology in Defence Studies. In 2012 he attained a Master of Arts in Strategic Studies from the University of Geelong, Australia.

Captain (Navy) S. Vunipola graduated from the Officer Cadet School, Waiouru, New Zealand in 1979.

He was commissioned on the 20th of August, 1980 and progress through various naval officers training on seamanship and navigation in various countries including Australia, New Zealand, Fiji, and the United States. In 1985 Captain (Navy) S. Vunipola was appointed as the Commanding Officer of the HMS FANGAILIFUKA and HMAV LATE.

However, in 1992 he became the Commanding Officer of the VOEA NEIAFU. In 1998 he was appointed as the Tonga Navy Component Commander. He became the Commanding Officer Administration in 2003

In 1994 CAPT S. Vunipola was the Executive Officer of the VOEA PANGAI during the Operation Lagoon in Bougainville Island. During the global campaign against terror, CAPT S Vunipola led HMAF 4th Contingent to Iraq in 2008 and in 2010-2011 he was once again the Contingent Commander for the 1st HMAF Contingent to Afghanistan under the International Security Assistant Forces (ISAF)

He was also awarded with the following medals and service decorations: The Order of St George: HMAF General Service Medal; Meritorious Service Medal; Long Service & Good Conduct Medal; Iraq Campaign Medal; US Army Commendation Medal; British Operational Service Medal; and ISAF Medal for Afghanistan

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