Leo Vredenbregt is an essential link in the chain that keeps Australian troops deployed in the Middle East connected with their families back home.
The Chief Petty Officer from the Perth suburb of Gosnells is a member of the Australian Defence Force’s joint Force Communication Unit 9. Leo and his team of sailors, soldiers and airmen are working around the clock to keep Australian forces connected with each other, their coalition partners, and their families at home.
This is Leo’s second deployment to the Middle East in support of Operation SLIPPER – his first was in the Australian warship HMAS Parramatta in 2010.
This time the 42-year-old Royal Australian Navy Communications and Information Systems (CIS) Sailor has his feet on terra firma, performing the supervisory role of a Communications Duty Officer based at Al Minhad Air Base in the United Arab Emirates.
There are about 2,400 Australian Defence personnel deployed across the Middle East as part of Operation SLIPPER and the ability to communicate an extraordinary quantity of information using a raft of radio, computer networks and other devices is critical to the success of their mission.
The challenge of keeping them connected rests with Leo and his team.
“So far, the highlight of my deployment has been travelling into Afghanistan and seeing what it’s all about, the country and our mission there,” Leo said.
The former Gosnells Senior High School student, who has served in the Royal Australia Navy for 26 years, has four months left of his tour to the Middle East and is looking forward to then returning to Australia to be reunited with his family.