Whenever Air Force deploy on operations, one of the first on the ground are the personnel capability specialists who maintain Air Force's most valued assets – its people.
Sergeant Jennifer Sichter (nee-Thorne), originally from Home Hill, normally works in the orderly room at No. 38 Squadron in Townsville.
She is deployed on Operation Accordion with the Expeditionary Airbase Operations Unit to Australia’s Air Task Group operations base in the Middle East.
Unit personnel are responsible for supporting aircraft operations of the Group under Operation Okra and contribute to coalition force operations.
They also provide support to all Australians on the base, ranging from accommodation and personnel movements to host-nation liaison.
The KC-30A multi role tanker transport and the E-7A Wedgetail airborne early warning and control aircraft deploy on a rotational basis to the air base for the operation.
The E-7A, which is currently deployed, controls the tactical movement of coalition aircraft over Iraq and Syria as the US-led Global Coalition of Combined Joint Task Force Operation Inherent Resolve combats the threat of Daesh.
Sergeant Sichter said one of her main tasks, apart from supporting flying operations, was important for the welfare and morale of the people working at the base.
“Everyone likes to have a break from the operational conditions and I’m the one who organises their paperwork before their leave can be approved,” she said.
“We’re a small contingent, but we’re here to do our part in the fight against Daesh.”
Sergeant Sichter said life at the US Air Force base on the host-nation airbase was a busy yet rewarding experience.
“The US have a fantastic welfare facility and there’s always something happening like bingo, which I still haven’t won, or music nights,” she said.
“It’s been fantastic meeting our coalition partners and being a part of the Defence family.”
Sergeant Sichter said her parents and her bother were in the Army when she was a child.
“I applied for Air Force when I finished high school, but I started university and forgot about it, so it was a surprise when I was accepted,” she said.
“I decided to give it a crack and now I’m on my first operational deployment.
“I enjoy the Air Force lifestyle and the values people stand by, which I will be passing on to my boys Alex (9) and Johnathon (4).”
As for the rest of her family, the boot is now on the other foot for Sergeant Sichter’s husband, Andrew, a former soldier, who now serves with Air Force as a corporal with No. 2 Security Forces Squadron in Townsville.
Corporal Sichter deployed to the Middle East three times while Sergeant Sichter stayed home.