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Joe Rounds - Joe plies trade with Army in Middle East

FORMER divemaster Joe Rounds is about as far from his former job in Fiji as he can get while deployed to Operation Accordion in the Middle East.

Corporal Rounds, 39, from Wavell Heights in Brisbane is deployed to Camp Baird with Force Communications Unit-10 in the UAE and manages supply of the ADF’s range of Electronic Counter Measures (ECM) used by personnel deployed to Operation Slipper in Afghanistan.

ECM helps protect personnel from the threat of Improvised Explosive Devices.

Corporal Rounds said he was enjoying his third operational deployment and was relishing the chance to apply his technical skills as an Operator Supply soldier.

“My job involves supervising and managing the demand, receipt, storage, security, maintenance, inspection, stocktaking and disposal of all ECM equipment within the Middle East Area of Operations,” he said.

“I have relished this opportunity to be a ‘stand alone’ operator and finally getting the chance to utilise all the skills I have learned to the full extent.

“It will also provide me with experience that will put me in good stead for wherever I go with the army in the future.

The Operator Supply category is part of the Royal Australian Army Ordnance Corps and is currently recruiting people who are keen to develop their skills in a key Army support function.

“Due to the nature of ECM and how it’s handled and managed, the reshaping of current operations has been a busy time as it is my role to account for and control this important equipment both into and out of theatre.”

CPL Rounds deployed to Afghanistan in October 2013 and had previously deployed to Operation ASTUTE (2010) in Timor Leste and Operation ANODE (2008) in the Solomon Islands.

He said he was looking forward to getting back to Australia to see his wife Irene and four daughters Nikita (16), Candace (13), Josephine (8) and Taylor-Anne (2).

“Quality time back home is the priority for me.

“Every deployment you go away and when you come back you see them grow up a little bit more which makes you realise there are parts of their life you missed out on.

“I have already planned a month-long holiday in Fiji with them when I get back in August.”

Before migrating to Australia with his family from Fiji, CPL Rounds was a divemaster working in the hospitality industry.

“My role was to organise, conduct and supervise recreational diving activities for certified divers.  My other role was being the public relations officer for the company I worked for so it’s fair to say my Army career has been a bit of a change but I have loved each minute of it so far.”

Australia’s military commitment in Afghanistan continues under Operation SLIPPER.

From 1 July 2014 Australia’s contribution to maritime security and counter piracy operations in the Persian Gulf, Gulf of Aden, Red Sea and parts of the Indian Ocean  became known as Operation Manitou.

Operation Accordion now supports both Operations Slipper and Manitou.

Approximately 1200 personnel are deployed on Australia’s operations Accordion, Manitou and Slipper with about 400 of those on Slipper.