A six-month deployment to the United Nations Force in Cyprus as the force commander’s driver and close protection detail has been the opportunity of a lifetime for a Darwin 1st Military Police Battalion (1 MP BN) digger.

Lance Corporal Scott Simmonds, who has been in the Army four years, said this was his first deployment.

“The role has been filled by MP members who are qualified in close personal protection, which is why I was able to be considered and was successful in getting this six-month deployment,” Lance Corporal Simmonds said.

Working as part of a small team of Australians in support of the UN Force in Cyprus Force Commander, Major General Cheryl Pearce, Lance Corporal Simmonds said every day was different in Cyprus. 

“There are days I’m in the office planning for upcoming movements of the force commander and looking after the day-to-day admin,” he said.

“Then other days we are attending official events in some of the different UN positions around Cyprus and interacting with people from all different countries. 

“There have been so many days where I have had to take a moment to appreciate where I am and what I have had the opportunity to be involved in or do. 

“It has honestly been unlike anything I have done in the past and I feel extremely lucky.”

Lance Corporal Simmonds said he had been fortunate enough to learn a lot about the history of Cyprus and be involved in patrols of the buffer zone by foot, air and bike. 

“I find it a very interesting place. There are parts of the buffer zone that have remained untouched for more than 50 years, almost frozen in time, still bearing the scars from bullet holes and bombs,” he said. 

“In some places people were forced to leave very quickly; there are houses with washing still waiting to be hung out and belongings left behind from all that time ago.

“I’ve enjoyed having the opportunity to see cities in Cyprus that are quite old and also enjoyed having some opportunity to explore and experience the culture.”

Lance Corporal Simmonds said working in a multinational HQ alongside members from 14 different nations, all from different ranks and backgrounds, had been a great experience. 

“I’ve made some friends I would otherwise have never got the chance to meet,” he said. 

“As a junior lance corporal I’ve been encouraged to develop and grow a lot of skills that will help me as I move forward in my career.”