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Maritime Logistics Community News : April 2014
18 MARITIME LOGISTICS COMMUNITY NEWSLETTER 2014 Operation Mazurka Earlier this year I returned from a six month deployment to Egypt as part of Operation Mazurka which is the Australian contribution to support the Multinational Force and Observers (MFO) force that has been stationed in the Sinai since 1981 to oversee long-standing peace agreements between Egypt and Israel. I was deployed to North Camp which is an old Israeli airbase located in the Sinai Peninsula, the Australian contingent consists of twenty five Defence personnel which are mainly Army with two or three Navy and Air Force personnel. Being a multinational operation I was working, living and socialise closely with personnel from thirteen other countries including: US, Canada, Columbia, Fiji, France, Czech Republic, Hungary, New Zealand, Italy, Norway, Netherlands and Uruguay which made for an interesting time trying to understand so many different languages and cultures. In total there is roughly 1500 military personnel deployed to North Camp. My role was far from what I had expected. Some of my jobs included being the Unit Driver Trainer (UDT) which is responsible for training the incoming personnel in the familiarisation of the American vehicle's used and the local North Camp, Egyptian and Israeli road rules, or lack there of. I also undertook the distribution of operational and general notices to all the MFO Sinai personnel and was the Anzac Cove Bar Manager which is a bar run jointly by the Aussies and Kiwi's. From the day I arrived I found the deployment extremely interesting. On arrival at the camp I found it was experiencing a severe shortage of water due to the local Bedouins who had been tapping into the camps main waterline to irrigate their crops, the water restrictions had us taking 30 second showers, hand washing cloths with bottled drinking water until the Egyptian Government assisted in resolving the issue. Later in the deployment a breakdown in the peace between Egypt and Israel resulted in conflict, the camp was close enough to see many of the rockets fired and hear explode on both sides. The local Bedouins also managed to keep everyone on their toes, at times protesting at the front gates of the camp, sometimes shooting randomly at MFO vehicles as they left the camp in an attempt to gain the Egyptian Government's attention to listen to whatever demands/problems they may be having at that time. The camp has surprisingly good facilities considering it is located in the middle of the desert, there is a cinema, fully equipped gymnasium, sauna, library and even a lawn bowls green, there is also the opportunity to visit the other contingent's bars and have the opportunity to go and socialise with other nationalities in our down time. Within North Camp there is also a 25 meter shooting range, everyone in the Australian contingent is required to attend weapons practice sessions every fortnight in order to maintain and better our skills in marksmanship principles and combat shooting. Some of the highlights of the deployment included having the opportunity to take short leave and travel to many of the tourist sights in Egypt and Israel. Seeing the sights was undertaken be travelling on either on a organised duty tour which is subsidised by the MFO or go on a self- organised tours with personnel within from the contingent. The duty tours are usually three days long and go to various parts of Egypt such as the Pyramids, Cairo Museum, Karnak Temples, Valley of the Kings and Nile river boat cruise or climbing Mount Sinai etc. The Israel tours go to places like Tel Aviv, the Dead Sea, Masada, Jerusalem and other tourist locations, these tours take place approximately every two to three weeks. One of the challenges during the deployment was the mandatory PT sessions which are conducted every second day at 0600. While the PT itself was pretty standard military type PT, doing it in the middle of a freezing cold Egyptian desert winter was not much fun but still rewarding at the end of the session and it makes you appreciate the Australian climate even more. In summary, my six month deployment on Operation Mazurka has been a very rewarding and challenging experience. I highly recommend it as an opportunity to experience working with military personnel from many other countries, undertake roles not normally undertaken by Maritime Logistic -- Supply Chain personnel and challenge yourself in roles that may be outside your comfort zone and of course having the opportunity to experience so many different cultures from personnel within the camp and travelling in the local area. LSML-SC SKUSAK