A posting to Headquarters Joint Operations Command at Bungendore, just outside Canberra, can significantly benefit an officer’s career, according to Commander Troy Van Tienhoven.
Commander Van Tienhoven, who joined the Navy as a junior sailor combat systems operator in 1994, said the Headquarters exposed all personnel to operational-level planning and command and control aspects of operations.
“Having thought at the tactical level for much of your career, when you post to Headquarters Joint Operations Command and participate in planning groups involving all arms of the ADF, and other government agencies such as the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade and the Australian Federal Police, you are quickly exposed to operational-level planning concepts,” he said.
“This makes you realise the ‘why and how’ the Australian Defence Force goes about conducting operations.
“Additionally, working in a truly joint environment exposes you to working closely with the other services, giving you valuable insight into how they operate and contribute to operations.
“Our job is to make sure we use the right assets to achieve the best effect.”
Commander Van Tienhoven said with the Australian Defence Force continuing to commission joint assets, such as the new Canberra class amphibious ships, on operations that will increasingly involve other government agencies, early understanding of joint concepts could only benefit your career.
“My responsibility is to lead the domestic operational planning section within the Headquarters Joint Operations Command Domestic and Regional Directorate,” he said.
“The section is responsible for all domestic operations, which include Operation RESOLUTE and all Defence aid to civil community operations.”
“My section effectively leads the headquarters planning for any short- to medium-term contingencies across the spectrum of domestic operations.
“The interesting part of my job is that one day we’ll be dealing with an Operation RESOLUTE scenario and the next we could be planning to assist at a post-cyclone disaster operation.”
According to Commander Van Tienhoven, the job is not without its challenges.
“For a small team - one lieutenant-commander and one major - the work is constant,” he said.
“The challenge is ensuring we plan and prioritise our effort, so as a headquarters, we are ready to respond when we are called to do so.
“Among all of this, we are rehearsing, learning and applying lessons to all relevant orders and instructions to ensure we are using best practice procedures.”
Commander Van Tienhoven said he had two main career highlights before posting to Headquarters Joint Operations Command.
“They both centre on leading fantastic people,” he said.
“I thoroughly enjoyed my tenure as Commanding Officer of the patrol boat crew Assail Four from 2008-09.
“It was my first exposure to the patrol boat community and I was amazed at my crew’s professionalism and what the patrol boat force did, and continues to do on a daily basis across the north of Australia.
“My second career highlight was my tenure as Executive Officer of HMAS Toowoomba from 2011-12.”
Commander Van Tienhoven said as a crew they experienced the highest of highs and the lowest of lows.
“I’m proud to say at all times the crew performed magnificently and banded together to work as a team when times were tough,” he said.
“We successfully completed a Middle East deployment in 2011, but during the same year we tragically lost two of our shipmates.
“I must say that through thick and thin and no matter the adversity, the way our team reacted to the challenge, reinforced my firm belief that the quality of people that serve in the Australian Defence Force is second to none.
“To this day I share a special bond with those I served with.”