Linguistic skill a strength that opens doors and minds

CAPTION:  Then Leading Aircraftwoman Jagroop Mangat provided communications and linguist support for Operation Pakistan Assist II in Kot Addu, Pakistan. Story by Squadron Leader Jessica Aldred.

As part of Harmony Week, this week (March 20-26),  Squadron Leader Jessica Aldred spoke to two inspirational Air Force members whose lives and careers encapsulate the spirit of the celebration. One of them was Flight Lieutenant Jagroop Mangat, who explains how speaking a number of languages helped her build relationships.

Speaking four languages has led to some unique and varied career opportunities for electronics engineer Flight Lieutenant Jagroop Mangat.

Joining in 2009 as a communication technician and later commissioning, Flight Lieutenant Mangat has deployed on Operations Slipper, Accordion, Pakistan Assist II, Resolute and COVID Assist in her technical and linguist capacities.

She said her Punjabi, Urdu, Hindi and Pashto language skills are a strength that have opened doors.

“For Operation Resolute, I was assigned to a patrol boat that gave me an excellent opportunity to work with the Navy as a linguist and experience life at sea with small bunk beds, short showers and amazing food,” Flight Lieutenant Mangat said.

“In my three-month stint, we came across three vessels carrying suspected unauthorised maritime arrivals and my task as a linguist was to identify the vessel’s captain and find out if anyone had injuries or medical issues, especially women and children, for our medical staff to address.

“I was also required to interview everyone and get their details for Australian Customs. At one time, I interviewed 60-plus people on board one of the vessels – it was hectic but rewarding.”

As part of the Sikh religion, Flight Lieutenant Mangat draws on the inspiration of selfless service from Sikh gurus who believe in equality, justice and service to humanity. ADF service is her way of giving back to the community.

She believes people bring experiences, skills and lifestyles from their culture and we can all learn and merge them with our own views to build a stronger community.

“Diversity makes for a stronger fighting force, it makes for a more capable force and it makes for a force multiplier,” she said.

While deployed to Kot Addu on Operation Pakistan Assist II, supporting the humanitarian assistance response to devastating floods, Flight Lieutenant Mangat better understood her strengths and values to Air Force.

“Even with the environmental challenges, staying in tents, living off ration packs and the heightened security threat, I was maintaining our communication systems and providing linguist support to our medical team,” Flight Lieutenant Mangat said.

“It took some time for me to understand my strengths and values until I was one of the key engagement links between our medical team and host nation community needing medical support for Operation Pakistan Assist II.

“It was important for me to recognise that when you are diverse of thought or of background, you bring a new voice to the table… and that voice can help with mission accomplishment. I feel privileged to have served in the ADF and would do it again in a heartbeat.”

Flight Lieutenant Mangat is currently a network engineer in Canberra.


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