It’s a long way from Ulverstone, Tasmania, to the Egyptian desert but for a former Army Cadet, Warrant Officer Class 2 Des McCoy, it’s all about making a difference.
While Des was a member of the Army Cadets in Ulverstone his brother was a member of the Army Reserve and his experiences led Des to becoming a full-time soldier.
“I've always had an active interest in the Army,” he said. “I saw the slouch hat when I was young and it was something that drove me to the cadets and I really enjoyed the lifestyle. From there I just progressed in to full-time service.”
Des has previously deployed to Iraq, Afghanistan and Timor-Leste and has enjoyed his time in the Army. He has worked in diverse roles ranging from signals and reconnaissance to developing rehabilitation programs for injured veterans.
“Each year has been something different,” he said.
Des is currently serving as a Force Security Sergeant as part of the Australia's contribution to the Multinational Force and Observers (MFO) in the Sinai, Egypt. The MFO is an independent monitoring organisation that supervises the ongoing security of the Egypt-Israeli Treaty of Peace and was formed in 1981.
WO2 McCoy’s job is to work with soldiers from many international forces including the United States, Italy, Czech Republic and Colombia to observe, verify and report breaches of the treaty along the Egyptian border.
“We're responsible for maintaining the security here at North Camp and advising on security procedures. We report to a Colombian captain or a Czech captain, depending on the roster,” he said.
“Our days are never the same. We'll be out helping Colombians through broken Spanish and also an interpreter, whether it be reporting treaty violations like Egyptian tanks going into the wrong zones or it could be as simple as someone who had forgotten his wallet on the way into work in the morning. We have quite a diverse role.
“The beauty of our job is that we actually get out and talk to all the different contingents and everyone knows the Security Sergeant. That's not just because we carry a pistol with us that makes us identifiable, but because we’re always out and about.
“It’s a rewarding job. It can be frustrating working in a multinational environment but that’s quickly forgotten when you forge strong friendships during the deployment.”
Asked if he thought the MFO was achieving its mission, WO2 McCoy said he could see positive changes at many levels.
“Here in my role I think that we’re certainly assisting in developing better processes,” he said.
“In the overarching task of observing the treaty and report violations I think we are successful. Both countries are talking better than ever now and we see that down at the lower level as well. That’s what the MFO is here to do, to be that good Samaritan and help them iron out those differences.”
WO2 McCoy was recently promoted and felt fortunate to be promoted on operations at MFO.
“It happened at dinner on Christmas Day and it was just the Australians gathered together,” he said. “It’s very special to have something like this happen on operations.”
Australia has 25 Australian Defence Force personnel working as part of Operation Mazurka from all three services in a variety of roles on a six-month rotation.