Baking in the MER
16 May 2016
Baking Anzac biscuit has brought together Australian and American personnel in the Middle East during the lead up to Anzac Day.
In the kitchen of Australia's main air operating base in the Middle East region, the stifling heat wasn't the main challenge of the day, as both nations discovered.
Invited to assist the Australians in baking the traditional Anzac biscuits was Chief Master Sergeant (CMSgt) Jason Tiek, who is the Acting Command CMSgt for the United States Air Force's 380th Air Expeditionary Wing.
CMSgt Tiek was surprised at the effort involved in sourcing the correct ingredients.
"I have been looking at the recipe and the biscuits look really delicious," CMSgt Tiek said.
"I am looking forward to seeing the difference that your Golden Syrup makes, and am definitely thinking about baking some myself. I can’t wait to try the recipe out."
Flight Lieutenant Carlie-Maree Sutherland, a Logistics Officer with Australia's Air Task Group 630 (ATG630), sourced the ingredients for the biscuits.
"When baking Anzac biscuits, it is important that we get the right ingredients and not settle for substitutes," Flight Lieutenant Sutherland said.
"It took some time sourcing the Golden Syrup, but the choices available to us just weren't an option. I wasn't prepared to compromise on quality as it would affect the taste."
Warrant Officer Adam McDonald, deployed as the ATG630 Warrant Officer, set about mixing ingredients, it was very clear that the pressure was on.
"Timing is imperative - if the cooking time isn't right it could be the difference between a crunchy biscuit and a chewy one," Warrant Officer McDonald said.
"The Padre is making sure we get it right."
The ATG630 Chaplain, Squadron Leader Robyn Kidd, was on hand to assist in quality control as biscuits came out of the oven.
The bake off brainchild behind the idea was that of the Commander Task Unit 630.1, Group Captain Brendan Rogers.
"Having invited our Coalition partners to attend our Anzac Day dawn service, I thought it would be a fantastic idea to afford them the opportunity to indulge in our famous traditional Anzac treat," Group Captain Rogers said.
"Not too may of us have much experience in baking, so we thought it appropriate to have a small practice run the week before."
"This would allow us to fine-tune our baking skills before making enough for some 400 invited guests'.
"The biscuits were a fabulous success, enjoyed by all. At the close of the day the only evidence of our mammoth efforts was the few crumbs left on the table in the Air Task Group brew room."
The ATG of Operation OKRA is operating at the request of the Iraqi Government within a US-led international coalition assembled to disrupt and degrade Daesh operations in the Middle East Region (MER). The ATG comprises six RAAF F/A-18A Hornet fighter aircraft, an E-7A Wedgetail airborne command and control aircraft, and a KC-30A Multi-Role Tanker Transport air-to-air refuelling aircraft. Additionally, the ATG has personnel working in the Combined Air and Space Operations Centre, and embedded with the 'KingPin' US tactical Command and Control Unit.
The ATG is directly supported by elements of Operation ACCORDION including the Theatre Communications Group, Air Mobility Task Group, and the Combat Support Unit, whose mission is to provide continuous combat support to sustain air operations in the MER. There are up to 350 personnel deployed, at any one time, as part of, or in direct support of the ATG.