Born and raised in England, Australian Army Officer Major Andrew Banks is deployed to Syria on Operation Paladin.
Major Banks grew up in Petworth, West Sussex, and spent more than 20 years with the British Army.
Today he is representing the Australian Defence Force (ADF) as force provost marshal to the United Nations Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF). He provides military policing advice to the force commander and is also the operational commander of the force’s Indian Military Police contingent.
“This is my first deployment with the ADF. It is also my first deployment with the UN. I am the only Australian deployed to the 1015-person strong UNDOF,” Major Banks said.
“Being deployed with UNDOF is a huge honour – it’s challenging and fascinating.”
Major Banks said working with the Indian Military Police to ensure their operations matched the high standards expected was an important role.
“The integrity of a force is key, especially in the peacekeeping or peace observing,” Major Banks said.
“Discipline is crucial to maintaining the integrity with all parties and the UNDOF Military Police help the force chain of command to ensure that the discipline of the UN troops is maintained to the very highest standards.
“The Indian Military Police are excellent, however, they do things differently to how we would.
“They also do not always understand my accent so I have to speak slowly so they understand me.
The job is hugely rewarding because it’s a professionally focused organisation with a world-wide reputation for excellence.
“It does help that for the most part, we all speak the language of cricket.”
While deployed on operations around the world with the British Army, Major Banks took his love for sport with him.
“I was the first development officer of the Afghanistan national cricket team – in 2002 – and the Afghanistan cricket correspondent for the Wisden Cricketer’s Almanac 2003 – 2009,” Major Banks said.
“I also introduced cricket to local schools in Basra, Iraq in 2006.”
Major Banks said he and his wife, Hannah – who is in the Australian Army Reserves – relish being in the ADF.
“Hannah spent 10 years in the British Regular Army, including two tours of Afghanistan before applying to the Australian Army Reserves after being in Australia for six months,” Major Banks said.
“Working in the ADF brings daily challenges and that’s why I love it.
"The job is hugely rewarding because it’s a professionally focused organisation with a world-wide reputation for excellence.”
UNDOF was established in 1974 to maintain the ceasefire between Israel and Syria and to supervise the implementation of the disengagement agreement.