Support element key to UNMISS success
4 September 2015
A small team of dedicated Australian Defence Force personnel are providing critical support to Operation ASLAN – the Australian Defence Force’s contribution to the United Nations Mission in South Sudan.
The Australian National Support Element includes Flight Lieutenant Karl Woodward, Warrant Officer Class 2 Stuart Clancy and Corporal Cynthia McShane.
They deploy for six months and provide critical logistics, personnel administration and force protection support to the other ADF personnel deployed on Operation ASLAN so they may focus on their duties supporting the United Nations Mission in South Sudan, better known as UNMISS.
Flight Lieutenant Woodward said he, Warrant Officer Class 2, Stuart Clancy and Corporal Cynthia McShane have considerable operational experience with a total of five previous deployments to the Middle East and Timor Leste.
"This previous experience has greatly assisted us during our time on Operation ASLAN," he said.
"During the past three months we have been responsible for a wide range of tasks spanning across South Sudan and Uganda."
"Our main focus includes providing administrative and logistic support to the other Australian Defence Force personnel, engaging with the local community, liaising with UNMISS and coordinating support from the Government Republic of South Sudan."
"Maintaining administrative and logistical support in South Sudan does come with its own unique challenges, for example the country has no EFTPOS or credit card facilities and large amounts of the local currency is counterfeit," Flight Lieutenant Woodward said.
One of Corporal McShane’s responsibilities is the mail from Australia.
"In three months, 63 cartons equating to 1,043kg of mail has been delivered, which has to be processed and then distributed to our personnel who are spread between two States in South Sudan," Corporal McShane said.
The National Support Element also provides an important link between the UN logistic system and the Australian Defence Force personnel located in Bor, approximately 200 km north of Juba.
"The wet season significantly impacts the roads which often become impassible for vehicle convoys. As a result the Australian Defence Force personnel located in Bor often rely on our support.
"Even though Bor is only a few hours drive north of Juba during the dry season, during the wet season UN Cargo system can take between 48 hours to 28 days to be delivered," Flight Lieutenant Woodward said.
The other National Support Elements in South Sudan face similar challenges and maintaining a close working relationship allows each country to operate efficiently.
"We also maintain strong working relationships with the Dutch, Canadian and Norwegian National Support Elements.
"We meet regularly to discuss better ways to transit food supply to Bor, identify areas in Juba to purchase goods and services, and overcome the challenges faced by cultural differences in South Sudan," Flight Lieutenant Woodward said.
Warrant Officer Class 2 Clancy said the Australian Defence Force deployed on Operation ASLAN are made up of Air Force, Army and Navy members who all possess diverse skills, knowledge and experience.
"An essential ongoing task for us is to maintain and enhance the skills of the Australian Defence Force personnel deployed on Operation ASLAN through continuation training and force protection in areas such as first aid, vehicle recovery, weapons handling, communications and threat action drills" said Warrant Officer Class 2.