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Maritime Logistics Community News : November 2009
37 NAVY SUPPLY NEWSLETTER SPRING 2009 and Decolonisation) through my work dealing with the General Assembly agenda item titled ‘Assistance in Mine Action’ concerning the removal of land mines and explosive remnants of war from former areas of conflict. The ADA role was complex and demanding. A typical day would start by reviewing cablegrams and emails received overnight from Canberra and making final preparations for meetings at the UNHQ that day. From 1000 to 1300 you would be attending the morning session of UNHQ meetings. The UNHQ lunch break lasted from 1300 to 1500, where you would often be involved with side meetings with delegates from like- minded Member States to discuss negotiating positions – within the UN system, Australia works very closely with Canada, New Zealand, the United States, Japan, and the European Union countries. The UNHQ conducts its afternoon session of meetings from 1500 to 1800. On completion of these meetings, you would then return to the Mission to send a cablegram to Canberra summarising the day’s discussions, recommending future courses of action, and seeking formal instructions from government for the next day’s meetings. Invariably, this would be followed-up with an early evening telephone call to catch the desk officers at MSC and IP Division as they started their day in Canberra. Some of the work highlights during my three-year tenure included: • Participating in meetings of the Security Council for Troop Contributing Countries (TCC) to UN peacekeeping missions. • Coordinating and participating in the UN Contingent Owned Equipment Working Group – this Working Group meets over two weeks every three years to negotiate the reimbursement rates for personnel and equipment provided by TCCs to UN peacekeeping operations. • Coordinating a number of high-profile visits to the UNHQ, including Defence Minister The Hon Robert Hill and Defence Secretary Rick Smith; CDF (General Peter Cosgrove); Deputy Chief of Army (Major General Ian Gordon); Senate Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade; and the Australian War Memorial Historian. • Assisting with Prime Minster Howard’s visit for the opening of the UN General Assembly. • Participating in the C34 Committee (Special Committee on Peacekeeping Operations which reports to the Fourth Committee). • Representing the ADF as the Guest Speaker at the Anzac Day service in Boston in 2005. • Maintaining effective relationships with members of the Military and Police Advisers Community (MPAC) in New York (representing some 60 TCCs with membership ranging from 3-star officers to senior NCOs). • Participating in the MPAC field trip to the UN Stabilisation Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH) in 2006. • Attending the US Army Multinational Logistics Course in Fort Lee, Virginia. • Leading the organising committee for the 2006 Annual MPAC Ball. • Playing ‘Santa Claus’ for the combined Consulate and Mission staff Christmas Party in 2005! Selection process So how do you get selected for this position? In my case, the Directorate of Naval Officers’ Postings (DNOP) released a message in early April 2003 calling for interested Supply and Engineering officers to nominate for the ADA UNNY position. You were required to submit a written nomination to DNOP addressing the mandatory selection criteria. DNOP then reviewed the nominations and submitted a recommended short-list of candidates to the Directorate of Senior Officers’ Management (DSOM). DSOM has the lead in conducting the Overseas Representation Selection Board (ORSB). DSOM, in consultation with IP Division and MSC Branch, then selected three officers to be interviewed. My interview panel consisted of the Director of DSOM, the Director of Attaché and Overseas Management (DAOM), the Director UN Commitment and Support (DUNCS) from MSC, and the Director of UN Middle East and Africa (DUNMEA) from IP Division. It was my first job interview for 20 years and was a very nerve-racking experience, particularly knowing that I was competing against two mates. All successful candidates attend a two-week Attachés’ course in Canberra run by DAOM. Secondment to the United Nations Department of Peacekeeping Operations (UN DPKO) Since my return to Australia, a number of friends and colleagues have asked me what it was like working for the UN in New York. My reply is that I did not work for the UN. The UNHQ periodically invites Member States of the UN to nominate military officers for vacant positions in DPKO. There is a misconception that Australia has a number of allocated positions within DPKO. Selection of military and police officers to be seconded to the UN is through a highly competitive world-wide interview process, taking into consideration job qualifications, gender balance and ‘geographical representation’ (i.e., approximately equal numbers of staff members recruited from all Member States). Seconded officers are contracted to, and paid by, the UN normally for an initial period of two years (with an option for a third year). While on a UN contract members retain their ‘effective service’ status for the purposes of being able to contribute to superannuation, retain service and promotion seniority, count as service for long service leave and to ensure that coverage under the Military Rehabilitation and Compensation Act 2004 is preserved. In my view the ADA position in New York provides an excellent opportunity for an ADF logistics officer to work at the military strategic and political level and gain a unique experience in the complex and demanding multilateral environment of the UN. In this job you really do speak on behalf of your government on the international stage, and your diplomacy skills are constantly on display. My posting provided me with an international network of contacts with foreign military officers and Foreign Affairs staff from a variety of nations, as well as lasting friendships with the DFAT, AusAID and AFP staff I worked with in New York who are now back in Australia. I believe it made me a better ADF logistician with a skill set shared with only a limited number of individuals at the Major (equivalent) level, and gave me a unique understanding, for a naval officer, of the complex interplay between the Australian political and Defence environments and the UN system. Three years in New York also gave me a greater appreciation of Australia’s standing within the international community. Dealing with the UN could be frustratingly slow at times, but then dealing with Canberra could be just the same. Should Australia be successful in winning a non-permanent seat on the UN Security Council for 2013-2014, the workload placed on the entire Mission staff in New York, including the Defence Section will increase significantly. The next naval officer selected for the ADA job from 2013 may be in for a very challenging and rewarding time indeed! If you think this sounds tempting, keep a lookout for when DNOP calls for nominations sometime in early 2012!