18 July 2014
Communications specialists across the Middle East Region will continue delivering unparalleled services to ADF personnel as the first Force Communications Element settles in.
Although smaller in number compared with the previous rotations of the Force Communications Unit (FCU), the team of dedicated communications specialists are already proving they are up to the task.
Officer Commanding Force Communications Element-1, Major (MAJ) Andrew Champion has taken over from Commanding Officer FCU-10, Lieutenant Colonel Ana Duncan and said while it is a challenge, it is something his team has been looking forward to.
“We do have a reduction in numbers compared with previous rotations but we all like a challenge and are looking forward to the new operational construct with the three operations,” he said.
The communications personnel are spaced across six locations, four countries and the three operations in the region. Half of the element is deploying for the first time.
MAJ Champion said it was good to see so much enthusiasm in the team.
“We have a great mix of those who have previously served here and have the experience but also those who are new to this area.
“The mix works really well and there are already many showing they are here to make a difference.”
The small team comprising 35 Army, 27 Air Force and three Navy personnel have completed their handovers and are now taking charge of one of the most complex communications networks in the history of the ADF.
Much of the equipment differs from what is traditionally used back in Australia and the small unit trained for four months prior to deploying to ensure they knew how everything worked.
“FCU-10 provided a wealth of knowledge and experience in our lead-up training,” MAJ Champion said.
“It has set us up for success.”
Deployed networks and computers at Camp Baker, in Kandahar, are in new hands with the recent handover from Force Communications Unit-10 to Force Communications Element-1.
Air Force Corporal (CPL) Ben Lepoidevin has taken over from Lance Corporal Steven Green and is now the Information Systems (IS) detachment Non-Commissioned Officer (NCO), responsible for all the Australian computers, networks and servers.
On his first operational deployment, CPL Lepoidevin said he was looking forward to the experiences and challenges that would come.
“There has been a lot to take in with the handover, more than I thought there would have been” he said.
“In this role I’ll be responsible for managing the helpdesk, networks, servers and data here along with my colleagues.”
With upcoming changes to networks and systems within the country, CPL Lepoidevin will have his work cut out for him.
LCPL Green said day-to-day management of the existing systems would probably be the biggest challenge for the new team.
“Although overall numbers of forces have decreased there is still a lot of work to be done,” he said.
With the handover complete and previous rotation members moving out, it will be up to the new team to ensure everything runs smoothly including the all-important welfare internet system so personnel can keep in contact with home.
CPL Lepoidevin said he had a great crew with him and was looking forward to the upcoming challenges.
“We’re going to be busy but it will be good,” he said.
“We’re also looking forward to gaining experience working with the different coalition forces and working between all the different computing systems.”