Army combat engineer Lieutenant Lauren Barclay started 2022 in a new role with a deployment on her first oversees operation.

Lieutenant Barclay was hours into her first day as a troop commander at 2nd Combat Engineer Regiment in Brisbane when she had to recall soldiers from leave after the volcanic eruption and tsunami in Tonga.

“We didn’t expect to deploy so early in the year, but the squadron’s preparedness meant we were ready to board HMAS Adelaide with only three days’ notice,” Lieutenant Barclay said.

Her first task was to direct the clearance of broken pews and other debris around the Wesleyan church on the island of Atata.

“It was rewarding to leave behind a functional community space after seeing the initial devastation,” she said.

Getting to know her soldiers while deployed overseas has been a positive experience for Lieutenant Barclay. 

“Starting the year working together on something so meaningful has been a great way to understand my troop's strengths and weaknesses,” she said.

“The challenges we experience here will set us up for success throughout the year.” 

Lieutenant Barclay grew up on the Sunshine Coast, Queensland, and attended Siena College. From Grade 10 she knew she wanted to join the Army.

“I have lots of family members in the military and I always wanted to have a physically active career, so the Army was a natural fit,” she said.

Lieutenant Barclay attended the Australian Defence Force Academy and the Royal Military College at Duntroon, where she joined the Royal Australian Engineers because of the multi-functional nature of the work.

“An engineer’s role is interesting because we offer a wide range of capabilities for any situation,” Lieutenant Barclay said. 

 “Knowing we have helped the people of Tonga on my first overseas deployment is a great experience.”