Navy officer plies trade in Afghanistan

Published on LEUT Peter Croce (author), WO2 Rob Nyffenegger (photographer)

Location(s): Kabul, Afghanstan

Topic(s): Operation SLIPPER

Lieutenant Commander Alwyn Johnson on deployment at Headquarters 633-A in Kabul, Afghanistan. (photo: WO2 Rob Nyffenegger             )
Lieutenant Commander Alwyn Johnson on deployment at Headquarters 633-A in Kabul, Afghanistan.

Exeter’s Alwyn Johnson is the sole Navy officer working in the Australian headquarters of landlocked Afghanistan for Operation SLIPPER.

Lieutenant Commander (LCDR) Johnson, 29, a Maritime Logistics Officer, is the human resources manager at Headquarters 633-A in Kabul, the organisation that manages approximately 400 Australian Defence Force (ADF) personnel currently deployed to Afghanistan.

This deployment is not the first for the avid rock climber who has been deployed on several operations; domestically for Operation RESOLUTE, peacekeeping in South Sudan as well as Maritime Security and land-based roles in the Middle East for Operations SLIPPER and CATALYST.

“I’ve been a Maritime Logistics officer for 10 years, and while we specialise in logistics, part of our role is also human resource management which I’ve had a lot of exposure to,” he said.

“I’ve been lucky that this has prepared me well for this job as I currently oversee more than 400 Australian positions in Afghanistan.

LCDR Johnson explained his role was to ensure the right people were assigned to support the ongoing Afghan mission.

“I’m happy just to be contributing to the mission here and it’s rewarding enough to see contributions that all the Australians can make within the NATO Mission and help ensure we keep providing those people.

“On a personal note, as someone who loves the outdoors, I was fortunate to be able to climb one of the hills overlooking Kabul on Christmas Eve. We walked up before dawn and were able to see the sun rising over Kabul.”

Rock-climbing trips to the Cataract Gorge and around Launceston as well as road trips to the East Coast are high on his list of priorities when he gets home.

“I’m really looking forward to spending time with friends and family again. I’d really like to take some time out and get out for a climb.

“Kabul is an interesting and diverse city, but sometimes it’s the small things that you miss from home, like how unique the bush is, or being able to go to the ocean.”

Following the completion of Australia’s mission in Afghanistan’s Uruzgan province last year, Australia’s efforts have shifted to a nationally-orientated mission throughout 2014, providing training and advisory support to the Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF).

Approximately 400 ADF personnel will continue to work in Afghanistan in 2014 through training and advising the ANSF in both Kabul and Kandahar.

Approximately 800 personnel are deployed within the broader Middle East Area of Operations, including the maritime security environment.