The opportunity to carry the Australian flag in honour of a fallen ADF peacekeeper was the highlight for Major Andrew Moses at an event to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the United Nations Truce Supervision Organisation (UNTSO).
CAPTION: Major Andrew Moses as the Australian flagbearer for the 75th anniversary to the United Nations Truce Supervision commemorative event in Jerusalem, Israel. Story by Major Carrie Robards.
As commander of the Australian contingent (COMASC) to Operation Paladin and the Australian senior national representative in UNTSO, Major Moses was selected to carry the flag in memory of Captain Peter McCarthy at the United Nations (UN) Headquarters in Jerusalem.
Captain McCarthy was a transport corps officer who was killed by a landmine during a routine patrol on his deployment to UNTSO in 1988.
Major Moses’ first deployment has coincided with the 75th anniversary of the establishment of UNTSO, the UN’s first peacekeeping mission, which also fell on the same day as the International Day of the UN Peacekeepers on May 29.
Major Moses said he was proud of the contribution Australians had made to UNTSO and Operation Paladin, and of the key role UNTSO had played in helping to maintain stability in the region.
“It is important to remember all the Australia soldiers who have served before us, and the important contribution we have made,” Major Moses said.
A team of 11 ADF military observers and training and staff officers are deployed on Operation Paladin, in Egypt, Israel, Jordan, Lebanon and Syria.
The officers supervise, observe and report on the various cease-fire arrangements, truce and peace treaties negotiated between Israel and neighbouring Arab nations.
Major Moses started his mission as a military observer in Syria, volunteering as the team training officer.
He was later selected as deputy team leader, and appointed to his current role as training officer for Observer Group Golan – Damascus.
As COMASC, he is responsible to the Australian Chief of Joint Operations for all Australians on mission, and is a conduit between Australians in UNTSO and HQ UNTSO in Jerusalem.
He is responsible for regular reporting and communication to Australia, and for the administration of Australians in the mission.
“The crucial part of my role is preparing new observers arriving in the mission for the unique requirements of observing and patrolling in Syria, assisting with team training, and observing or reviewing exercise training,” Major Moses said.
Major Moses also offers support to the United Nations Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF).
“Each Australian will have had a varied and unique experience working in at least one country, sometimes periods of different roles in multiple countries and roles,” he said.
As well as professionally challenging work, the deployment offers myriad interesting ways to use downtime, which includes most weekends.
“I use this time to go into Damascus, do grocery shopping, visit the Old Town area and historical sites in the city or go to a restaurant,” he said.
Major Moses recommends a role with the UN to anyone looking for a varied, once-in-a-lifetime experience and the chance to work with other agencies.
“This is a unique mission where you can apply for roles, leadership opportunities and transfers between countries within the 12-month deployment,” he said.
Throughout his role, Major Moses has visited Syria and Damascus, lived in a camp on the edge of the demilitarised zone, been an observer in the southern area of the Golan, joined Nepalese peacekeepers for snow skiing and developed lifelong friendships.
“It is essential training for the members occupying the position at an altitude of 2814 metres as snow is present for around six months of the year and restricts access for a number of those months,” he said.
The ADF has made a significant contribution to worldwide peacekeeping operations for more than 70 years, with 17 Australians with the ADF or Australian Federal Police losing their lives on UN or non-UN peacekeeping operations.
Currently, 26 ADF personnel are deployed in support of UNTSO, UNDOF and the United Nations Mission in South Sudan.