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June 6, 2013 www.defence.gov.au/news/NAVYNEWS
WO2 Andrew Hetherington
Force communications Unit 8
(FcU 8) has successfully completed
its eight-month mission in the MeAo.
The unit officially handed over
to FcU 9 at Al Minhad Air Base
(AMAB) on May 13.
The triservice unit’s role was to
establish and maintain vital communi-
cations and information system links
between MeAo bases, Australia and
The unit’s 130 personnel arrived
in the MeAo in october last year
and were deployed to areas including
HQ JTF 633 at AMAB in the UAe,
Tarin Kot, Kabul and Kandahar in
Afghanistan, and with the combined
Maritime Forces in Bahrain.
co FcU 8 LTcoL Gregory Novak
said his unit had achieved a lot in its
“We came into theatre at a very
dynamic time, particularly with the
drawdown at Multinational Base Tarin
Kot,” LTcoL Novak said.
“We redesigned and remediated
the communications circuits that
come into Tarin Kot and physical-
ly removed terminal equipment and
cabling in buildings so they could be
“We also had to install new com-
munications equipment into interim
buildings, so Tarin Kot-based units
could continue to work in their current
communications and comput-
er equipment no longer needed was
inspected, prepared for transporta-
tion and passed on to ADF movement
teams for return to Australia.
This is an ongoing task, which
FcU 9 has taken over.
A major achievement for FcU 8
was the establishment of an alternative
headquarters at JTF 633 at AMAB.
“The new facility will enable the
commander and all of the headquarter
staff to continue to run operations if
there was a fire or power outage in the
main headquarters building,” LTcoL
“We planned and designed the
office layout and installed all of the
communications and office equipment,
which took us around six weeks.”
other FcU 8 achievements were
the establishment of a permanent
FcU member position in Bahrain,
completing the drawdown and clo-
sure of Australian communications
and computer systems support for
forward operating bases Hadrian,
Mirawais and Sorkh Bid, and extend-
ing the ADF communications network
to Australian personnel deployed to
forward operating base Lindsay in
LTcoL Novak said the biggest
challenge his unit faced during its time
in the MeAo was the geographic dis-
persion of personnel.
“We were an austere task group
and we didn’t have a lot of people for
the work we did,” he said.
“The distances between personnel
also made it difficult to manage the
collective skill sets required in each
ABcIS Jodi Farmer was part of the
team keeping communication channels
open during the unit’s deployment.
“I worked at the AMAB
communications Information System
help desk,” AB Farmer said.
“I was dealing with all of the ADF
users of and the networks associated
with our communications and infor-
mation equipment, including helping
maintain the welfare internet network.
“It doesn’t sound like much, but
it was a massive job, as it’s the busi-
est help desk in the MeAo and we
frequently manage more than 1000
It was AB Farmer’s first operation-
al deployment and she said she gained
a lot from working with other ADF
“Working with the Army and Air
Force was different to what I was used
to in the Navy and I learnt a lot from
them,” she said.
“I understood how they did things
in a communications unit and learnt
more about some of the software pro-
grams I used here and in my usual job
IN CONTACT: ABCIS Jodi Farmer on top of the CIS building at Al Minhad Air Base.
Photo: POIS Phil Cullinan
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