Sessions in the sand

Two information systems technicians are ensuring all ADF members deployed on Operation Accordion in the Middle East are regularly enjoying a good belly laugh.

CAPTION: Royal Australian Navy Petty Officer (PO) Mark ‘Butts’ Butler (left) and Australian Army Signaller (SIG) James ‘Devs’ Devlin work together to produce a weekly podcast while deployed in the Middle East region. Story by Flight Lieutenant Clarice Hurren. Photo by Sergeant Glen McCarthy.

Not taking themselves too seriously, Navy Petty Officer Mark ‘Butts’ Butler and Army Signaller James ‘Devs’ Devlin produce a weekly podcast central to morale and the casual dissemination of information across Joint Task Force 633.

Using their smartphones, the music room and any other quiet space they can commandeer, Sessions in the Sand features interviews with ADF members and civilian staff across the base, as well as sporting and social event notices.

Petty Officer Butler said the aim was to give an alternate grass-roots platform to those who have an interesting story.

“Both Devs and I are part of the Force Communications Element, and we work on the ICT helpdesk,” Petty Officer Butler said.

“Our roles give us the opportunity to meet new people every day and we wanted to hear more about their background and unique jobs.

“Everyone here in the Middle East is different and we’ve found a fun way to learn a little more about one another – while also having a laugh, of course.”

Developing the podcast in their free time between shifts, Petty Officer Butler and Signaller Devlin also assist in running the weekly volleyball competition and park run events.

Signaller Devlin said they wanted to find a way to spread a bit of humour and satire to help deployed members relax after a long day away from their loved ones.

“The idea to create a podcast came to Butts and I during our Force Preparation Course in the lead up to our deployment,” Signaller Devlin said.

“Usually, teams might make a newsletter, but we wanted to do something different.

“We both have a quirky personality and straight away realised our mutual love for comedy could be put to good use.

“It’s been a fantastic way to meet and connect people across the base.”

Petty Officer Butler and Signaller Devlin also host a regular segment with the ADF personal training instructor about sports updates, exercises and nutritional tips.

“The podcast has been well received – we get a lot of positive feedback,” Petty Officer Butler said.

“We don’t do it for the praise though, we are doing it because we enjoy it, and we get a hell of a lot of laughs out of it.”

Signaller Devlin said there were a number of other ADF members working hard in the background to produce the podcast, assisting with organising future content and ensuring all approvals are received for distribution.

“The support we have had to put Sessions in the Sand together every week has been incredible,” Signaller Devlin said.

“Not only are we learning about other segments of Defence and their contribution on operations, but we are also learning about ourselves.”

CAPTION: Royal Australian Navy Petty Officer (PO) Mark ‘Butts’ Butler and Australian Army Signaller (SIG) James ‘Devs’ Devlin doing what they do. Photo by Sergeant Glen McCarthy.






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