6 August 2014
AUSTRALIAN personnel from across the three services are providing invaluable experience and skills in important areas with the Multinational Force and Observers (MFO) in the Sinai, Egypt.
Established in 1981, the MFO in a non-United Nations organisation established to oversee the 1979 Treaty of Peace between Israel and Egypt.
Personnel from 12 nations contribute to the operation, with army, air and naval components as well as a civilian observer element.
Commanding the Australian contingent of 25 members is Lieutenant-Colonel Nerolie McDonald, who also holds the position of Deputy Chief of Operations.
Lieutenant-Colonel McDonald said she has thoroughly enjoyed both her roles and having a great team behind her made it that much more enjoyable.
"I have a smaller number of people compared to what a CO might normally command," she said.
"But the role has been wonderful, and although it can be busy it is great fun."
With Australian contingent members holding key appointments across the operation, the Australians have earned a reputation for getting things done quickly and efficiently.
The Australians work closely with the other nations allowing the brigade-like organisation, with three infantry battalions, to get on with the job, which is to observe, verify and report on the peace treaty.
Lieutenant-Colonel McDonald said while her whole team did a fantastic job, the eight sergeants in the force operations command and security cells were extremely visible and a credit to Australia.
"These sergeants are the driving force behind operations and security every day," she said.
"Our SNCOs regularly brief two-star generals, which is not that common in some of the partner nations we serve with."
With most of the team effectively wearing two hats, one for the MFO and the other for their Australian duties, Lieutenant-Colonel McDonald said it was an interesting organisation of which to be part.
"The mission can be very complex working with all the different parties, troop contributing nations and the complexities of organising those operations," she said.
"With the shift in what is happening locally, the mission is very different to previous years.
"But the MFO is very respected and both sides of the treaty enjoy having us here."
The 25 Australians deployed on Op Mazurka include two members who fulfil national command roles looking after administration and other support roles, while the others work directly for the MFO.
Op Mazurka is also quite different to the other two minor operations (Operation Paladin and Operation Aslan) in that the bulk of the members making up this operation are Non Commissioned Officers.
With 12 nations involved in the operation, Lieutenant-Colonel McDonald said it added more to the environment.
"The eclectic nature of the nationalities here just works," she said.
"It is an enjoyable and remarkable environment.
"I think any soldier, sailor or airmen looking for a challenge or different experience should try to be part of it."