For most Australians, Iraq is probably the last place they’d expect reunite with a close family member.
But, that’s exactly what happened for two brothers serving in the Australian Defence Force (ADF), when they recently met at the Taji Military Complex, 20 kilometres north of Baghdad.
Army Sergeant Scott Cowan and Royal Australian Air ForceSquadron Leader Ben Cowan, from North Lakes, Queensland, last saw each other on Christmas Eve 2018 and subsequently deployed to Iraq on separate operations.
“I was excited to hear Ben was in the Middle East but didn't know where he was. Obviously I was keen to locate him and catch up if the opportunity arose,” Sergeant Cowan said.
Scott Cowan is deployed as trainer with Task Group Taji 9 as part of the international coalition’s building partner capacity mission with the Iraqi Security Forces.
His brother Ben is a NATO Mission Iraq (NMI) embed at Forward Operating Base Union III in Baghdad (a short flight from Taji) as a training systems officer under the US-led Operation Steadfast.
“It's good to know we are undertaking different roles in separate locations to support the same mission,” Sergeant Cowan said.
Squadron Leader Cowan is on his second operational deployment, while Sergeant Cowan – who also served with Task Group Taji 2 – has deployed six times.
“I deploy less frequently than Scott and to be in Iraq at the same time has certainly made this deployment even more memorable,” Squadron Leader Cowan
“I know mum is a little stressed having both her sons in Iraq at the same time, but appreciates the importance of our work.
“It is easy to focus on the technical side of operations and the hectic nature of what we do; but I find the human element of this experience to be the most rewarding.”
Sergeant Cowan said their grandmother would be feeling most sentimental about the dual deployment and for good reason.
“Our grandmother’s father deployed to New Guinea with the 2nd/14th Light Horse Regiment in World War II, so she understands first-hand the important of service to Australia,” he said.