As a primary school teacher, Geoffrey Short from Reservoir is used to life in the classroom, helping develop young minds. However, it’s his role as an Army Reserve soldier which has taken a front seat this year, after he was selected to deploy overseas as part of the Australian Defence Force contribution to the Regional Assistance Mission to Solomon Islands (RAMSI).
“My job is a section commander in the rifle company. I have to provide training for the men and oversee all taskings that come down through my Chain of Command,” Geoffrey said.
After finishing high school, Geoffrey decided to join the Australian Regular Army (ARA), that decision saw him deploy to East Timor in 1999 and while he says there’s an element of similarity in deployments, Solomon Islands has been extremely different to the heightened tensions he discovered in East Timor.
“The weather is similar, but they are very different deployments. I was there when there was a lot of instability in East Timor, so the nature of taskings was very different. Here we’ve primarily been doing training as opposed to Timor where it was continual operational taskings. Within my section the soldiers have been positive and really enjoyed the experience,” Geoffrey said.
After several years in the regular Army, Geoffrey, 35, said he was drawn to teaching after studying at university and discovering a love for instructing.
“I left the ARA because I wanted to go to university and I did that and enjoyed it and somehow found myself trained as teacher. It’s great, and the Army brings a lot to my education career and vice versa. Especially when it comes to actual instruction which is the passion that I have. It’s good here when instructing soldiers because you have a captive audience; unfortunately it doesn’t work like that back at school!
I transferred to the Army Reserves in 2002, and I’m posted to the 5th/6th Battalion, the Royal Victoria Regiment. I’m with the support company there and do a lot of training. The focus in the Reserves is the same, but the intensity and what you bring to it is different,” Geoffrey said.
After his four months in Solomon Islands, Geoffrey’s looking forward to going home and catching up with his family and mates, especially his three year old daughter.
“Her name is Ruby. That’s probably one of the hardest things about being deployed is missing your kids, but luckily it was not too long to be away,” Geoffrey said.
Next on the agenda will be heading back to Flemington Primary School where Geoffrey teaches grade 3/4, and undertaking additional army courses.
“I’m looking to do promotion courses to be promoted to Sergeant and hoping to do an instruction position to help with the course,” he said.
Geoffrey said the Army Reserve life is one he’d recommend to anyone, particularly for those who want to experience the military without giving up their civilian career.
“Do it! You’ll love it! The experiences and training you get from the people you work with is just awesome,” he said.
Geoffrey will shortly return home to Australia with the rest of the Australian Defence Force led Combined Task Force 635 which has provided support to RAMSI for the past decade. With continued stability in the region, the time is now right for the ADF to return to Australia and allow the Royal Solomon Islands Police Force to maintain law and order in the country.