Commendation no accident for distinguished petty officer

Published on SGT Dave Morley (author), Sourced from The Australian (photographer)

Topic(s): Queen's Birthday Honours, HMAS Waterhen, Australian Clearance Diving Team ONE

Petty Officer Clearance Diver Kevin Paul, of Australian Clearance Diving Team One at HMAS Waterhen, in Sydney, received the Commendation for Distinguished Service. (photo: Sourced from The Australian)
Petty Officer Clearance Diver Kevin Paul, of Australian Clearance Diving Team One at HMAS Waterhen, in Sydney, received the Commendation for Distinguished Service.

A senior sailor, who “accidentally” joined the Navy, was awarded a Commendation for Distinguished Service in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List.
 

Petty Officer Clearance Diver Kevin Paul, of Australian Clearance Diving Team One at HMAS Waterhen, in Sydney, received the award, “for distinguished performance of duties in warlike operations as the chief counter improvised explosive device (IED) training adviser of the Afghan National Police Central Training Centre during Operation Highroad”.
 
Petty Officer Paul, who joined the Navy in 1995, initially had no thoughts of enlisting.
 
“I just went to the recruiting centre for a day off school with a mate who wanted to join, and next thing you know, I was at HMAS Cerberus,” he said.
 
Petty Officer Paul deployed to Afghanistan from December 2015 to July 2016, as the Training Adviser for the Counter-IED Directorate of Headquarters Resolute Support.
 
“I advised generals on training methods, course structure and planning,” he said.
 
“If new training was required, due to a change in enemy tactics, I’d work with the contract trainers to develop the course and then advise the Afghans on which corps or units required it first and in what location.
 
“I also oversaw the training provided to both Afghan National Arrmy and all streams of the Afghan Police by US contract trainers, as the quality assurance representative to the headquarters.”
 
Petty Officer Paul said he enjoyed working in a multinational environment.
 
“The Directorate is made up of Australian, US, both military and civilian contactors, and a Turkish officer, but the headquarters and the different bases I travelled to had people from almost every NATO country,” he said.
 
“I was the only enlisted member in the Directorate, so I enjoyed the challenge of working at a higher level than I normally would in Australia – I felt the role helped me a lot professionally.
 
“Throughout my deployment, my Afghan counterparts were appreciative of the work I was doing and they expressed their like for working with the Australian Defence Force as a whole.
 
“Trust is a big thing in the Afghan culture, and given this position was only for six months, I was lucky I was able to build rapport quickly with my counterparts, because without it you may not achieve much.”
 
Petty Officer Paul said he was fortunate to work with great people throughout his deployment.
 
“The flow on from that is you enjoy being there and that translates into your work ethic,” he said.
 
“It feels good to know someone noticed the work I did and I really appreciate they took the time to have it acknowledged with this award.”