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Army June 6, 2013
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 on May
13 The triservice Army-led FCU 8's
role was to establish and maintain vital
communications and information system
links between MEAO bases, Australia
and coalition partners.
The unit's 130 personnel arrived in
October last year and were deployed
across the MEAO including HQ JTF 33
at Al Minhad Air Base (AMAB) in the
UAE, Tarin Kot, Kabul and Kandahar in
Afghanistan, and Qatar and Bahrain.
XO Sqn-Ldr Tom Fitzsimmons said
a number of technical milestones were
achieved during the time, as well as
more than 52,000 logged and closed
help desk jobs.
"The team moved over 22 tonnes
of equipment between theatre and
Australia, and withdrew from the for-
ward operating bases across Uruzgan
province," he said.
CO FCU 8 Lt-Col Gregory Novak
said his unit had achieved much.
"We came into theatre at a very
dynamic time, with the drawdown at
Multinational Base Tarin Kot," Lt-Col
"We redesigned and remediated the
communications circuits which come
into Tarin Kot and physically removed
terminal equipment and cabling in build-
ings so they could be vacated.
"We also had to install new commu-
nications equipment into other buildings,
so people could continue to work in their
current operational roles."
Communications and comput-
er equipment no longer needed was
inspected, prepared for transportation
and passed on to ADF movement teams
for return to Australia. This is an ongo-
ing task, which FCU 9 has taken over.
A major achievement for FCU 8 was
the establishment of an alternative HQ at
JTF 633 at AMAB.
"The new facility will enable the
commander and all of the HQ staff to
continue to run operations if there is a
fire or power outage in the main build-
ing," Lt-Col Novak said.
"We planned and designed the office
layout and installed all of the communi-
cations and office equipment, which took
us around six weeks.
"The new capability was proven by
conducting staff rehearsals working
within new standard operation proce-
Other FCU 8 achievements were
the establishment of a permanent FCU
member position in Bahrain, completing
the drawdown and closure of Australian
communications and computer systems
support for Forward Operating Bases
(FOB) Hadrian, Mirawais and Sorkh
Bid, and extending the ADF communi-
cations network to Australian personnel
deployed to FOB Lindsay in Kandahar.
Lt-Col Novak said the biggest chal-
lenge his unit faced during its time in the
MEAO was the geographical dispersion
of its 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 did
make it difficult to maintain the collec-
tive skill sets of personnel.
"It also made it hard to ensure we
were all aligned with the work we had to
do at the different locations throughout
At the Tarin Kot node of FCU 8,
one of Army's representatives was Sig
"It was my second deployment to
Afghanistan after I was here over 2010
and 2011 with FCU 4," Sig Zigas said.
"Last time I was working out at
Patrol Base Wali maintaining their com-
munications network, whereas this time
I worked at the busy Communications
Information System help desk."
There was one main benefit working
in a busy deployed environment.
"The days seemed to pass by quick-
ly because there was so much work to
do helping people with their email and
internet accounts and fixing problems
with their computers," Sig Zigas said.
"I also got into a daily routine. Every
day there was work to do and before I
knew it I was having lunch, then dinner
and I was at the gym and after that I
went to bed.
"My day was then done."
FCU 8 completes mission
Unit calls it a day after eight months deployed to the MEAO
Job well done: FCU 8's Sig Joshua Zigas serves a customer at the
Communications Information Systems help desk at Multinational Base
Photos by WO2 Andrew Hetherington
Keeping things running: Sig Josh Batman is shown how to fix a
communications satellite dish by RAAF Cpl Matthew Brougham.
The new facility will enable the
commander and all of the HQ staff
to continue to run operations if
there is a fire or power outage.
-- Lt-Col Gregory Novak,
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