By Captain Anna-Lise Brink
While oceans separate most families when a loved one deploys overseas, one Brisbane father and daughter are fortunate to be serving in the Middle East at the same time.
CAPTION: Australian Army soldiers Private Nikita Rounds and her father Sergeant Joseph Rounds catch up in the Middle East while concurrently deployed on operations in the region. Photo by Petty Officer Andrew Dakin.
Sergeant Joseph Rounds is deployed to Operation Okra in Iraq while his daughter Private Nikita Rounds is serving on Operation Accordion at the Australian support base, Camp Baird.
“It’s been unreal – definitely one of the highlights of my career so far, being in the same area of operation as Dad on a deployment,” Private Rounds said.
“It’s also good because it’s not his first deployment, so he’s been able to offer a lot of support because he knows what it’s like.”
This is a fourth deployment for Sergeant Rounds, having completed tours to Afghanistan, Solomon Islands and Timor-Leste.
But this is his first serving with family.
“As a father, I couldn’t be prouder,” he said.
“Just to be deployed at the same time is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.
“I’ve seen other families deploy, but to actually experience that feeling and have her being able to relate to what’s going on, it’s good.”
The pair work in logistics; Sergeant Rounds as a Company Quartermaster Sergeant for Task Group Taji-7, managing personnel and equipment at a storehouse, while Private Rounds is an Accounts Payable Officer for Headquarters Joint Task Force 633.
Their roles are closely linked, with Private Rounds processing and paying for equipment orders her Dad places for Task Group Taji-7’s training teams to support its mission of training Iraqi Security Forces.
It means they regularly communicate for work, but have also taken the opportunity to connect as a family.
“It’s like being at home – being in a family – you’re just talking to your daughter every day,” Sergeant Rounds said.
“The ‘Sergeant’ thing, the rank, doesn’t come into play – it’s just Dad. She’s still Nikita to me and that will never change.”
With their deployments offset, Private Rounds will head home a few months earlier than her Dad.
“It’s definitely bittersweet, part of me wants to go home and part of me wants to stay,” she said.
Sergeant Rounds said it will hit hard when his daughter does leave.
“Here I’m talking to her every day, situation no change like back home, but when she leaves I’ll be by myself, so I’m definitely going to miss her when she goes back.”
When they do both return home, they’ll again be working in close quarters, as both are posted to Brisbane’s 7th Brigade along with Nikita’s Mum, Joseph’s wife, Private Irene Rounds, who is also in logistics.
They’ve both enjoyed their deployments and the unique opportunities it has brought.
“It’s the pinnacle of your trade and it’s what we all strive to do,” Sergeant Rounds said.
“It’s good to train, train, train, but you have to be trained to go and do something and a deployment is the end process in all of that.”
Operation Accordion supports and sustains Australian Defence Force operations in the Middle East region, enabling contingency operations and enhancing regional relationships while Operation Okra is the Australian contribution to the US-led coalition to combat the Daesh terrorist threat in Iraq and Syria.