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Grant Clapton - Elizabeth Park

Grant Clapton is an important link between Australian troops deployed to the Middle East and their families back home.

The 27-year-old Leading Aircraftman from Elizabeth Park is a Communication and Information Systems Controller and has spent the last two months deployed to the Middle East. Grant is a member of Force Communication Unit 9 (FCU-9) and posted to Al Minhad Air Base in the United Arab Emirates.

The unit is made up of a team of sailors, soldiers and airmen working to keep Australian forces throughout the Middle East connected with each other, their coalition partners, and with their families at home.

There are about 2,400 ADF personnel deployed to the Middle East as part of Operation SLIPPER, and the ability to communicate an extraordinary quantity of information using a raft of radio frequencies, computer networks and other devices is critical to the success of their mission.

Grant is no stranger to working in high-tempo environments, having deployed on countless operations and exercises over the past four years. He said he won’t forget this one.

“So many things stand out. The heat, the culture shock and especially the mates I have made over here,” Grant said.

Grant, who married his Fremont Elizabeth City High School sweetheart, Kathleen, will continue his mission in the Middle East over the next four months, before returning to Australia to reunite with his family and friends.

“I miss spending time with my best mates Thoeun and Andy, and I’m really looking forward to spending time with my wife and kids over a barbecue and a beer,” he said.

Until then, he’ll keep working with his unit to keep Australian troops throughout the Middle East, including those at sea in Australian warships, connected.

Operation SLIPPER is Australia’s military contribution to the international campaign against terrorism, maritime security in the Middle East and countering piracy in the Gulf of Aden.

The current Force Communication Unit is the ninth to deploy to the Middle East in support of the operation.