23 January 2015
Corporal Stuart Birkin - a member of the Headquarters Northern Command in Darwin - has been acknowledged for three years of unwavering support to personnel assigned to Operation RESOLUTE.
Presented a Commander Joint Task Force (JTF) 639 Silver Commendation by Rear Admiral Michael Noonan AM, Corporal Birkin said the award was both encouraging and humbling.
Corporal Birkin was posted to the Headquarters Northern Command in January 2012 where he provided technical clerical support to force-assigned elements in relation to PMKeyS operations log management as well as the day to day management of deployed specialist service officers such as medical officers and linguists.
With the introduction of the Operation RESOLUTE Operational Manning Document in August 2013, Corporal Birkin's role suddenly expanded to include the arrival of supplementary staff at the Headquarters JTF639; new positions established for the Logistics Support Element (LSE) - Christmas Island, and the increased frequency in deployments of legal officers, chaplains, physiologists, and communications specialists. In April 2014, Corporal Birkin's administrative support responsibilities expanded again to include the creation and manning of the LSE - Darwin.
Despite the high operational tempo, Corporal Birkin said the past three years supporting Operation RESOLUTE have been the most rewarding years in his 27-year career.
"My work has been all about supporting the people who can make RESOLUTE a success or failure, supporting their movements, accommodation, getting them home and importantly sorting out their pay and allowances," he said.
"I have often been involved in compassionate returns to Australia and short notice deployments.
"It's a busy job and things change constantly but the satisfaction of working with, and supporting such professional people makes all the difference in the world - and at the end of the day we are supporting an operation in real time where every contribution makes a big difference," he said.
For Corporal Birkin there were times when his contribution was harder than others, with his daughter Jamie-Lee diagnosed with leukaemia two days after her seventh birthday in 2012.
"Jamie-Lee received surgery immediately then on-going treatment in Adelaide for a year where my wife and I would alternate travelling and residing in the city as Jamie-Lee's career. In the months I spent in Adelaide I logged on to DRN using Dreams for a number of hours each day to continue on with the operations log auditing on behalf of the Headquarters JTF639," he said.
"It was a very challenging time but the support I received from the team at Headquarters Northern Command was second-to-none."
Operation RESOLUTE is the Australian Defence Force contribution to Australia's whole-of-government, civil maritime security effort. Minor War Vessels including Armidale Class Patrol Boats (ACPBs) and Mine Hunter Coastals (MHCs), Major Fleet Units, AP-3C Orion maritime surveillance aircraft and approximately 500 personnel including Regional Force Surveillance Units and headquarters staff can be assigned to JTF639 for the conduct of RESOLUTE.
Corporal Birkin will farewell the Headquarters Northern Command at the end of the month to take up a new posting, and promotion to Sergeant, at the Air Base Command Post, 13 Squadron, RAAF Darwin.