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Maritime Logistics Community News : November 2009
36 NAVY SUPPLY NEWSLETTER SPRING 2009 I will briefly discuss the United Nations (UN) system and how my position interacted with the United Nations Headquarters (UNHQ) in New York. For those who might be interested in a posting to The Big Apple in 2013 I will briefly explain the selection process for the ADF’s Defence Attachés overseas. I will also explain the difference between my posting and those Australian Defence Force (ADF) personnel who are fortunate enough to be seconded to the UNHQ in New York for service with the UN Department of Peacekeeping Operations. And finally, I will provide some personal thoughts on the benefits of this posting to the ADF. Permanent Mission of Australia to the United Nations, New York Each of the UN’s 192 Member States has a Permanent Mission in New York. To avoid confusion, think of the Permanent Missions as the Member States’ embassies to the UN in New York. There are also Permanent Missions to the UN in Geneva and Vienna. The Permanent Mission of Australia to the United Nations, New York is currently lead by the Head of Mission, H.E . Gary Quinlan, Ambassador and Permanent Representative to the UN. The Mission is a Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) -led ‘whole-of-government’ diplomatic post, with representatives from DFAT, AusAID, Australian Federal Police (AFP), and the ADF. For more information, see the Mission’s web site at www.australiaun.org. Role of the Defence Section The role of the Mission’s Defence Section is to: • Provide advice on military matters to the Head of Mission and other Government agencies within the Permanent Mission, ensuring a ‘whole- of-government’ focus; • Represent Australia’s interests in UN Committees and debates, particularly those involved in peacekeeping; and • Focus on UN peacekeeping activities, both in the field and at the UNHQ. The Defence Section receives its tasking direct from Defence in Canberra, primarily from the Military Strategic Commitments (MSC) Division and the International Policy (IP) Division, and it occasionally receives requests for information from other government agencies. Its reporting chain is through the Head of Mission direct to the First Assistant Secretary International Policy (FAS IP) in the Strategic Executive under a joint Chief of the Defence Force (CDF)/Secretary of Defence Directive. Importantly, there is no command and control relationship with the Head Australian Defence Staff (Washington) or the Australian Embassy in Washington, DC. My position as the Assistant Defence Attaché (ADA) is one of two uniformed ADF positions at the Mission. The other is the Defence Attaché (DA); a designated Army position established since mid 1991. The ADA role is a dedicated logistics function which rotates between the three Services. The current DA is due for rotation around the end of 2010 and the next Navy rotation for the ADA is planned for January 2013. To the best of my knowledge, I am only the second naval officer posted to the ADA position since it was established in the mid-1990s. Role of the Assistant Defence Attaché As the ADA, my duties were to: • Liaise with the UN Secretariat on strategic and operational issues, including administrative and logistic support, relating to Australian participation in UN operations (current and future) and to ensure relevant areas of the Australian Defence Organisation and ‘whole-of- government’ agencies (where appropriate) are kept informed (i.e., planning and support concepts, nominations, deployments, rotations, visits, MEDIVACs, medal requests, etc for UN peacekeeping missions). • Liaise with the UN Secretariat on peacekeeping contracting and cost recovery issues (i.e ., negotiating Memoranda of Understanding (MOUs), Letters of Assist (LOAs), and reimbursements from the UN for Australian participation in UN peacekeeping operations, etc). • Liaise with other Permanent Missions to the UN, academic institutions and other appropriate organisations in New York to keep abreast of developments in UN operations and report these as appropriate (i.e., overt information gathering). • Manage the Defence Section funding allocation, including preparation of budget bids, expenditure reporting and exercising financial delegations. • Ensure a ‘whole-of-government’ focus for all activities conducted by the Defence Section. Like any large bureaucracy, the UN system can be very confusing to the uninitiated. The UN system consists of six Principal Organs: Security Council; General Assembly; Economic and Social Council; International Court of Justice; Trusteeship Council; and the Secretariat. My main area of interaction was with the UN Secretariat, dealing primarily with the Department of Peacekeeping Operations (DPKO) and the Department of Safety and Security, with occasional interaction with the Department of Political Affairs. I also had significant involvement with the Security Council and the General Assembly through the First Committee (Disarmament and International Security) and the Fourth Committee (Special Political New York, New York – A Diplomatic Posting to the Big Apple This article will shed some light on my recent, little-known posting as the Assistant Defence Attaché to the Permanent Mission of Australia to the United Nations, New York from January 2004 to December 2006. BY LCDR PETER BARNES, RAN CPL CMILT AIMM