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Heath Webber - Adelaide

The desert sands of the Middle East region are a long way from the rolling hills of Adelaide, but Royal Australian Air Force Sergeant (SGT) Heath Webber is no stranger to the dust and heat.

Originally hailing from Wagga Wagga, the Explosive Detection Dog Handler is currently deployed on Operation ACCORDION as the Senior Non-Commissioned Officer-in-Charge (SNCOIC) of the Expeditionary Airbase Operations Unit"s (EAOU) Physical Security Section.

Although his Explosive Detection Dog "Esky" has moved on to a new handler, SGT Webber has a wide range of experience in managing physical security, both domestically and internationally, on his own.

"My job is mostly about managing the small teams which make up my section on a 24-hour a day, seven-day a week basis," he said.

"We don't just provide security to the Australian areas of the base but to certain Coalition force areas as well."

Although it might sound like a simple job, EAOU's Security Flight is responsible for ensuring the continued safety of hundreds of Australian and Coalition force personnel, as well as multi-million dollar equipment.

As continuous improvement happens across the base, with multiple engineering projects being worked on throughout the year, SGT Webber has had to help devise strategies to manage the additional risks which come with outside personnel being on the base.

"One of my key achievements so far has been ensuring an appropriate security posture was maintained during multiple engineering works which have occurred across the base," he said.

"To assist my team in managing both these and other duties, we've integrated personnel from outside of the security trades to perform modified duties alongside my Security Flight personnel.

"The mates I've made from the team I work with are one of the best parts of my job, as well as the learning experiences of working in an operational environment."

SGT Webber has been further challenged in his deployed role by participating in multiple Evacuation Handling Centre (EHC) rehearsals as the SNCOIC of the searching team.

"My team conducts the initial screening search before people can enter the EHC," he said.

"By screening the people who come through the centre, we're making sure both the staff working inside of the centre and the people who require our assistance are safe.

"The EHC rehearsals are important for us because they allow us to identify any possible issues before we deploy on the real thing.

"It also exposes all of the participating personnel to scenarios which may be encountered in a real life situation."

SGT Webber returns home from his deployment later in the year, where he will reunite with his wife, Anne, and three children, Skye, Claudia and Cooper.

EAOU personnel deployed on Operation ACCORDION support and sustain Australian Defence Force operations in the Middle East region, enable contingency operations and enhance regional relationships.

About 500 ADF personnel are deployed on Operation ACCORDION throughout the region.