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September 17, 2009
By LEUT Lauren Rago
FROM spreadsheets to dusty streets
and hot sunshine in Tonga, LCDR
Rick Parry was an integral link in
delivery of a US-sponsored humani-
tarian civic assistance mission in the
Pacific this winter.
The ADF provided about 60 per-
sonnel to Pacific Partnership 2009,
an annual US-sponsored training and
readiness mission involving a diverse
range of militaries, governments and
non-government organisations to
develop foreign interoperability in
delivering effective humanitarian and
disaster relief aid in the Pacific.
The mission visited Samoa, Tonga,
Solomon Islands and, at the time of
print, was en route to Kiribati and the
Republic of the Marshall Islands deliv-
ering vital engineering, medical and
dental and veterinary aid.
The enabling platform for the mis-
sion is the 23,852 tonne military seal-
ift command dry cargo/ammunition
ship USNS Richard E. Byrd, which is
transporting supplies, equipment and
personnel around the Pacific to each
LCDR Parry, who recently com-
pleted work in Ha'apai Tonga, was
a member of one of the two mission
advance party teams working as a civil
military cooperation officer (CIMIC).
Known as ADVONs these teams
travel ahead of USNS Richard E.Byrd
to each host nation to conduct detailed
planning, confirm supplies and sched-
ules, meet with key government and
community stakeholders, determine
mission capabilities and manage
LCDR Parry was a member of
ADVON Gold, the six-strong team
working in Tonga and Kiribati.
LCDR Parry was one of only two
CIMIC officers in the RAN. Based at
Headquarters 1st Division in Brisbane,
he loves his jobs -- plural.
Rick normally works at the
Australian Taxation Office (ATO) as a
field auditor but lives a life peppered
with adventure thanks to his Navy
"I like to do something different,
somewhere different. I also meet many
interesting characters along the way,"
"As CIMIC officer on Pacific
Partnership, I am working on the
ADVON to engage key host nation
leaders in Tonga and Kiribati including
officials and non-government organi-
sations to help prepare them for the
arrival of the mission."
LCDR Parry and his ADVON
team flew to Tonga on June 18 before
the ship's arrival on July 13. Living
arrangements for the team had been
"We have stayed in the equiva-
lent of a four-star hotel and we have
stayed in a tiny backpackers' hostel
without hot water above the only café
in Ha'apai, being devoured by mosqui-
toes," he said.
The multinational Pacific
Partnership team is working long, hard
days to deliver civic assistance to as
many people in each host nation as
"I'm honoured to be part of this
mission," LCDR Parry said. "Life is
different in Tonga for these people,
and we are making a positive contribu-
tion to their lives.
"One of the projects, a refurbish-
ment of a community centre is an
important part of Tongan life as it is
used for recreation, village meetings,
disaster relief efforts, major events and
traditional feasts," he said. "Same with
the local primary schools the engi-
neers are renovating. Not to mention
the medical and dental personnel who
have seen more than 4000 patients.
"It's very touching to see the clear
appreciation from the community
about the work we are doing, and their
hospitality in feeding us and helping us
with the work."
Some of the more memorable
experiences for the Aussie contingent
were visits to local primary schools in
"We danced with them to the fan-
tastic US Pacific Fleet Band and the
US AS330 Puma helicopter landed
at one of the schools. The kids were
ecstatic, it was a great day."
The Pacific Partnership mission
is not the first time LCDR Parry has
worked with the US military. Last year
he attended Pacific Partnership 2008
on a pre-deployment survey team and
he worked with the US during his post-
ing to East Timor last year.
"The US guys definitely speak dif-
ferently," laughed LCDR Parry. "They
also plan differently but, at the end of
the day, we're all just human beings
helping other human beings. I'm happy
to be working with them and they bring
an excellent capability to the region."
He said working with the Tongans
was also enjoyable and, by and large,
there were no language difficulties.
"The Tongan Defence Service
provided a significant contribution of
Tongan engineers to work alongside
the US and other partners at the con-
struction sites," he said.
"They are excellent to work with
and I've actually been able to catch up
with two Tongan graduates from the
1st Division CIMIC tactical operators
course I taught in Australia."
As for his fellow Australian Tax
Office colleagues back home: "I'm
sure they hate me at the moment. But
the ATO has been very supportive of
my reserve time."
LCDR Parry has been in the Navy
for 42 years, joining in 1967 as an
ordinary seaman. He obtained his com-
mission in 1980 and operated heavy
landing craft and patrol boats as a sea-
man officer before going to 1st Division
in Brisbane in 1995 and doing various
roles within the maritime component
at the headquarters.
He became a CIMIC officer in 2006
at 1st Division, providing a naval fla-
vour to the capability.
"The Naval Reserve gives me the
ability to enjoy two careers," he said.
"It's a rare opportunity to do that."
Making the most of two careers
INVOLVED: LCDR Rick Parry discusses arrangements with the Australian
High Commissioner to Tonga, Bruce Hunt, and CPL Luke Archard of the
Army's 8th Combat Engineer Regiment.
KNOWING THE LAYOUT: LCDR Parry with locals on a Tongan street.
By LEUT Grant McDuling
IN A bid to widen its appeal to those
who can't attend regular meetings, the
Naval Association of Australia (NAA)
has launched an eFleet, or electronic
According to NAA National President
Les Dwyer, members will be able to par-
ticipate at whatever level they wish, rang-
ing from no involvement at all to full-on
"The most important feature of our
new eFleet is that it allows those who
simply want to be in the NAA with no
obligations whatsoever, to do so by par-
ticipating through a dedicated website
and chat forum," he said.
This will be especially useful for
those who live in remote areas or who
are serving in the RAN and find it diffi-
cult to participate in the regular activities
of the various sub-sections.
Members of the eFleet will receive
four free copies of Australian Warship/
White Ensign magazine posted to their
nominated address annually.
"And those who join within the next
eight weeks or so will receive foundation
member certificates," Mr Dywer said.
The Chief of Navy, VADM Russ
Crane, AM, CSM, RAN has agreed to be
the patron of the eFleet sub section.
An application form can be found on line at
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