Gap year students sample overseas operation

Seven Air Force members were given a career-defining opportunity during their Gap Year program.

CAPTIONGap year personnel with a static display at Indian Naval Station Rajali, Naval Air Base, Arakkonam, Tamil Nadu India. From left, Leading Aircraftman Jason Grant, Aircraftwomen Ella Johnstone and Caitlan Williams, Aircraftmen Luke O’Brien and Garrison Asciak, and Aircraftwomen Maddison Fordred and Ebony Jones. Story by Flight Lieutenant Nancye Houston. Photo by Leading Aircraftman Jason Grant.

In December last year, they deployed overseas on operation with 1 Security Forces Squadron (1SECFOR).

Rapidly deploying globally on exercises and operations is a day-to-day activity for personnel of 1SECFOR.

Nonetheless, increasing demand for aircraft security operations and airbase security capabilities led to 1SECFOR’s critical reinvigoration of its force employment methods.

Growing up on the sunny beaches of Newcastle with her family, it wasn’t until a visit to the local careers expo in 2019 that Aircraftwoman Ebony Jones considered joining the ADF as a Gap Year member.

“As soon as I spoke with the ADF member promoting Defence, I was sold,” Aircraftwoman Jones said.

“I was not expecting to travel the world, especially so soon coming out of training.”

Joining 1SECFOR has given ‘Gap Years’ opportunities not many members would receive during their time with Defence.

“It was really cool being on a trip and experiencing the evolution of international relationships whilst learning procedures of working with personnel in India,” Aircraftwoman Jones said.

1SECFOR Team Lead, Leading Aircraftman Jason Grant, shared what it was like to deploy with personnel who were so recently trained.

“It was great – the team are so willing, capable and ready to deploy,” Leading Aircraftman Grant said.

“The exposure to foreign forces engagement and procedures, along with the need to build those international relationships, whilst conducting flightline tasks with real world outcomes is something you can only get through a trip like this.

“You could send them to a domestic exercise but this deployment provided the members with a heightened awareness of responsibility and demonstrated the importance of their role.”

When asked if she had joined the RAAF with a plan to stay past the one-year mark, Aircraftwoman Jones said: “No, but if this is how it’s going to be, I’m staying in.”

1SECFOR plans to again deploy Gap Year personnel during their year-long contracts.


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