Hobart native Ashton Brooks has loved how far her Army career taken her although she never expected it would take across the Coral Sea in a Navy ship on a humanitarian mission.
Ashton, 20, is serving as a Corporal with 17 Brigade based in Sydney but is currently posted to HMAS Tobruk as a member of the ship’s Army detachment and was deployed to Papua New Guinea for PACIFIC PARTNERSHIP 2013.
While deployed, Ashton oversaw the welfare of more than 100 embarked personnel from the Australian Defence Force and the United States Armed Forces on their way to render medical, dental, veterinary and engineering assistance to the townships of Wewak and Vanimo.
“I worked in a team of about 19 Army members posted to Tobruk as the embarked forces supervisor,” she said.
“We transported personnel from Australia, Japan and the United States during the deployment and I was charged with managing all of the logistics that go with getting their needs met.”
“My top three priorities as the embarked forces supervisor were the welfare of the troops, making sure they’re safe during emergencies and making sure the troops’ messes are clean and tidy for the duration of our deployment.”
Ashton, who previously deployed to Papua New Guinea in 2012, enjoyed the second opportunity to do her job in an operational environment with allied forces.
“It was fantastic doing my job overseas last year and seeing how the Papua New Guinea Defence Force interacted with the ADF.”
“For me, that’s the biggest highlight of my job - getting to work with other nations all the time.”
Ashton originally joined the Australian Army through after she found out about the Gap Year program at a Defence Force Recruiting office.
“I wasn’t quite sure if I wanted to go to uni so I went to the recruiting office and looked at the options.”
“I went into operator movements and I thoroughly enjoyed that so I decided to sign up at the end of the GAP year program.”
After enlisting after her Gap Year, Ashton has jumped into her work and hasn’t looked back.
“Every four years you can move somewhere new, meet new people and do your job all over Australia.”
“That’s what appealed to me the most”
“The ship’s Army detachment is like a family away from your family.”
Despite her Army background, Ashton has enjoyed working with the Royal Australian Navy at sea.
“I find it brilliant coming from an Army unit into the SAD team because you’re still within the Army, but wearing the Navy uniform and going through all their roles and responsibilities”, she said.
“Being part of a ship - it’s just one of those experiences you don’t often get being in the Army.”
Ashton will have a short break once Tobruk returns to Sydney, before sailing with HMAS Tobruk again later in the year.
PACIFIC PARTNERSHIP is a humanitarian and civic assistance mission to render medical and engineering assistance to Australia’s regional neighbours.
In addition to HMAS Tobruk’s deployment to Papua New Guinea, USS Pearl Harbor of the United States Navy deployed to Samoa, Tonga and the Marshall Islands while HMZNS Canterbury provided aid to Kiribati and the Solomon Islands.
JDS Yamagiri of the Japanese Self Defence Force provided 20 personnel and a Seahawk helicopter in Papua New Guinea.
Volunteers from HMAS Tobruk’s crew also refurbished sports facilities and public buildings for the two remote townships which have a combined population of approximately 40,000 people.
HMAS Tobruk will return from her mission in late July.