Like all international travellers, Australian Defence Force (ADF) personnel and Defence civilians deploying to the Middle East are subject to each nation's immigration policies.
For the thousands of personnel who deploy each year, it has been Royal Australian Air Force officer Flight Lieutenant Kalyan Rachakatla and his team that have ensured the correct policies are followed.
Comprising five RAAF personnel, the Expeditionary Air Operation Unit Visa Coordination Cell (VCOORD), work tirelessly to facilitate all visa and immigration processes for around 1700 personnel across seven active ADF operations.
FLTLT Rachakatla said the endless movement of personnel kept the VCOORD team busy.
"Just as you would on a normal holiday, upon arrival, personnel are issued a 30-day short visa stay, and unless travelling regularly for duty or pushing forward, they are required to apply for residency," FLTLT Rachakatla said.
hub for all visa and immigration matters within Joint Task Force 633, we may also be called upon to obtain visas for other nations."
An Electronics Engineer himself, FLTLT Rachakatla said the VCOORD personnel were drawn from various employment areas which resulted in a "mixed-bag" of staff, each bringing different skills to the team.
"Every country has a different set of rules for their visa requirements – it took a while in the beginning for the team to get the hang of things but we have learnt together and the team is doing an outstanding job," he said.
Just four months into his deployment, FLTLT Rachakatla has focused on continually improving processes, rectifying inefficiencies and seeking the best outcomes for Defence, which has led to an inspiring nickname.
"I've been given the nickname 'The Magic Man' – If there's an issue, I will fix it and ensure that problem doesn't occur again," he said.
"My role requires excellent communication skills – you have to be down to earth, respect host nation policies and be confident in what you're doing."
FLTLT Rachakatla joined the ADF in 2009 for the challenge, to work with cutting-edge technology and to see the world, and although the deployment has different challenges to his role as an engineer at HMAS Harman in Canberra, it has come with its rewards.
"This is my first deployment and I absolutely love it – I regularly travel to Dubai, Sharjah, Abu Dhabi and have also been to Muscat, Oman for visa requirements."
Kalyan is looking forward to returning home to his partner in October, but until then, he will continue to learn from and enjoy the challenges of deployment.
About 500 ADF personnel and Defence civilians deployed on Operation Accordion as part of Joint Task Force 633. They are employed in various headquarters, logistics and medical roles.