RAAF officer's key role in security at Kandahar Airfield
3 March 2014
Kandahar Airfield in Southern Afghanistan is one of the busiest airfields in the world.
A strategically important hub for the International Security Assistance Force, it is home to more than 22,000 coalition troops, contractors and locally engaged employees.
Royal Australian Air Force Reservist, Squadron Leader Paul O’Shea is the airfield’s Security Operations Officer.
“I’m the Operations Officer for all force protection here at Kandahar Airfield. I’m in charge of the day to day running of the 900 strong coalition force protection elements,” Squadron Leader O’Shea said.
“It’s everybody in the guard towers, the mobile patrols, the Romanians who work with us, and the Australian Airfield Defence Guards who provide security, both on the flight line and in the base security zone.”
At any given time it’s estimated there is $US 50 billion worth of aircraft and mission essential equipment sitting at the airfield or in the skies above.
As well as the threat of insurgent action, Kandahar Airfield security needs to be aware of what’s happening inside the base, given that approximately 13,500 people are non military third country nationals who provide support to coalition forces.
With International Security Assistance Force’s combat mission complete by 2014’s end, and NATO planning for the subsequent Afghan train, advise and assist mission, robust force protection remains critical.
“We are continuing to provide a strong defence here at the airfield and we are constantly looking at ways to improve that”, Squadron Leader O’Shea said.
“On a weekly basis, I attend meetings regarding the remediation of the base and the impact on security. We have been heavily involved with Regional Command - South in regards to providing expert guidance to them on what are the base line requirements to protect an air strip”.
Home for the Air Force Reservist is Melbourne, where he lives with his wife and three children. He says the opportunity to practice his military trade on operations was too good an opportunity to pass up, even if it meant resigning from his job with a pharmaceutical company.
“This is the best job a Ground Defence officer can get. It’s fantastic and that’s why I quit my job of nine years. It was a little bit of a risk at 43 years old, but this was too good an opportunity to ignore,” Squadron Leader O’Shea said.