Navy Officer on Operation ASLAN in South Sudan

This article has photo gallery Published on CPL Nick Wiseman (author and photographer)

Location(s): Juba, South Sudan

Navy Lieutenant Aaron Goedecke is a Maritime Logistics Officer deployed to the United Nations Mission on Operation Aslan in South Sudan. (photo: CPL Nick Wiseman)
Navy Lieutenant Aaron Goedecke is a Maritime Logistics Officer deployed to the United Nations Mission on Operation Aslan in South Sudan.

A Royal Australian Navy officer has found himself coordinating a challenging mission in South Sudan.
 
Lieutenant Aaron Goedecke is a Maritime Logistics Officer deployed to the United Nations Mission in his first land-based role planning the logistics of incoming battalion Headquarters.
 
Lieutenant Goedecke said he enjoys working in his small team of personnel from five other nations.
 
"I work with people from India, Nigeria, Ukraine, Uganda and New Zealand," he said.
 
"We each have our separate roles but we're all part of the planning unit within the Mission Support Centre."
 
The work he and the others do in their small team supports the 12,500 surge forces that have been committed to the mission as part of the United Nations Security Council Resolution (2155) for the protection of civilians.
 
Lieutenant Goedecke said a logistics plan usually starts with a site survey.
 
"A logistic support plan is most often prepared for a battalion (about 850 troops) but sometimes for a company size of 150 troops," he said.
 
"The plan then moves to the horizontal phase, which is the levelling and strengthening of soil, sewerage, hardstands, pipes and security beams.
 
"After that the vertical phase is conducted, which are the structures for the camp such as ablutions, accommodation, medical facilities, warehousing, communications and kitchen facilities."
 
After those phases are complete the main body would move in with an advance party and equipment prior to the main body of troops.
 
Lieutenant Goedecke said although it had been a steep learning curve learning about the Army composition of troops, he had enjoyed every minute of it.
 
"The job has been highly rewarding as I am liaising daily with battalion commanders and professionals to achieve a common goal," he said.
 
"Every day there are constraints but, due to the nature of the work, we do the best we can to find a solution, even if the conditions or outcomes are going to be difficult."
 
Being his first operation on both land and with the United Nations, Lieutenant Goedecke hit the books prior to deploying to learn as much as he could.
 
"I read as much as I could get my hands on regarding the history and background of South Sudan and in some instances about Africa," he said.
 
"This was difficult noting that South Sudan is the youngest country, liberating in 2011.”
 
Lieutenant Goedecke said friendships and the overall experience were the highlights of this deployment.
 
"I have met a range of very interesting individuals from a large variety of nationalities and will most definitely remain in touch," he said.
 
"The life experience is wonderful but professionally this is going to be a highlight in my career.
 
"The ability to plan for the establishment of operating and support bases to receive more than 12,500 troops is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, especially the opportunity to be involved in such a special organisation with so many other nations."

Operation ASLAN is the deployment of Australian Defence Force personnel to the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS). The operation formally started on 23 September 2011.

Australian Defence Force personnel transitioned to Operation ASLAN from Operation AZURE.