Serving alongside ADF personnel, five Defence public servants are deployed on Operation Accordion in the Middle East region.
Glen Bouwman, Carmel Ryan, Luke Collison, Jacqui Stuart and Ros Radburn are the current torch bearers in a long line of Defence civilians who have had the rare distinction of serving the country overseas.
Deputy contract manager Ms Ryan said despite years of Defence civilians being deployed, they were a very unique group of individuals.
“You feel very privileged when you have been told that you have been selected for deployment,” she said.
With 12 deployments and 115 public service years between them, the five quiet achievers represent the extraordinary breadth of operational knowledge and experience seen across many deployed Defence civilian teams.
Service delivery manager Mr Collison said their knowledge made them a useful asset in support of operations, particularly in core functions or roles no longer undertaken by uniformed counterparts.
“Service delivery oversight, finance/procurement, cash management, brokering of contracts and working closely with industry to deliver garrison-type services are time consuming and require a significant amount of dedication,” Mr Collison said.
“Defence civilians enable the release of ADF capabilities for other mission-critical functions by taking on these tasks to provide the financial and contract oversight required.”
All public servants looking to deploy undergo a rigorous recruitment process and are selected based on their qualifications, work experience, training and ability to work in an integrated environment.
Returning home you take a greater understanding and appreciation of the deployed environment, military functions and structure.
Contract manager with the Contract Management Cell Mr Bouwman said Australian Public Service members considering deployment needed a strong commercial and financial management background, experience in the contract management field and have worked for the Australian Defence Organisation for the majority of their careers.
“On top of this we are required to complete force preparation, either warlike or non-warlike, depending on the role you are deploying to,” Mr Bouwman said.
“Some positions also require members to complete pre-reading and briefings, role-specific training prior to deploying and the completion of some mandatory courses.”
Despite the highly competitive selection process, senior finance adviser Ros Radburn said the rewards were worth it.
“Returning home you take a greater understanding and appreciation of the deployed environment, military functions and structure,” she said.
“Deploying highlights the linkages between the capability support we provide at home and the day-to-day activities in the Middle East region.
“Beyond understanding operational requirements, time pressures and mutually exclusive tasks, you work closely within the tri-service environment, developing strong networks and friendships that are invaluable on deployment and when returning home.”
It’s a role and responsibility that finance adviser Jacqui Stuart said was never taken for granted.
“It is a privilege and an honour to be given the opportunity to deploy on operations,” Ms Stuart said.
“Ultimately this is what Defence is all about and we are the fortunate few who can say we have been involved in the pointy end of the business.”