Jacob Thompson is quick to admit his deployment on Operation ACCORDION in the Middle East region is a long way from wine country.
The 23-year-old Royal Australian Air Force Flying Officer (FLGOFF), who grew up in Albury and the Barossa Valley, is deployed to the Expeditionary Airbase Operations Unit (EAOU) as the Officer-in-Charge of the Logistics Support Flight.
FLGOFF Thompson is responsible for the oversight of all logistics tasks, governance and supply chain management for both his unit and the Air Mobility Task Group.
"Being in charge of the Logistics Support Flight is a very diverse role, with many different facets," he said.
"One part of my job is acting as the base Mutual Logistics Support Officer. In that role, I interact with our Coalition partners, including the New Zealanders, United States, Dutch, Italian and British forces, on a daily basis.
"We work on a number of different things in support of each other and our operations, including the recovery of Commonwealth funds expended in support of Coalition operations and general life support."
FLGOFF Thompson, who is now in his fifth year of service and on his first deployment, said he commissioned into the RAAF to "serve his country and make a difference".
"I believe in making a difference to people's lives, both at home and overseas, as well as making lifelong friendships along the way," he said.
"One of the best things about my job is the interactions and relationships I establish both with Australian Defence Force personnel and the Coalition forces we work with.
"I became an officer to have the ability to lead a team through difficult and challenging situations, while ensuring the mission is achieved and my people are looked after throughout."
FLGOFF Thompson has encountered a number of challenging situations throughout his deployment including a number of practice evacuation handling centre (EHC) scenarios.
"During the most recent EHC practice, I was acting as both the assistant second-in-command and the exercise coordinator," he said.
"If we were to deploy forward in response to a real situation, I'd act as either the second-in-command or as a liaison officer.
"Training like this is important because it allows us to refine our skills in a team environment. During an EHC, a number of people are working outside of their organic roles, so the extra training is helpful to ensure everyone is good to go.
"For example, I'm also the vulnerable persons subject-matter-expert, which requires forethought and management to ensure the sensitivities of the host-nation customs and traditions are adhered to."
Now coming to the end of his deployment, FLGOFF Thompson is looking forward to heading home to RAAF Base Edinburgh, outside of Adelaide.
"I'm pretty keen on catching up with my friends and family, and looking at doing some travelling when I get home," he said.
"I'd like to head over to Europe for winter and maybe even head north to Finland to see the Northern Lights."
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.