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Kevin Smith - Perth

When dealing with contractors at a military base far away from Australia it's good to have someone who speaks civilian talk fluently.

That's why at the main Australian Defence Force base in the Middle East there's a Mister in the ranks.

If something's broken at Camp Baird it's up to Kevin Smith, the Deputy Service Delivery Manager for maintenance and infrastructure, to get it fixed.

"I work with Serco to do the maintenance, repairs and take care of any defects," he said.

"I also manage Serco performance to ensure they provide the required works in accordance with the contract.

"That's everything from general every-day defects like broken taps and showers to major repairs on buildings."

Kevin, an APS 6 normally based at Leeuwin Barracks in Perth, arrived at Australia's main Middle East base in early April for a six-month deployment.

"I like getting out of the office, working with contractors and getting to meet different people around the camp," he said.

"A couple of people have said they're pretty happy with the job, particularly when the water has been turned back on.

"A lot of people come up and have a chat while problems are being sorted and it's good have that interaction, there might be some disgruntled members out there but I don't hear from them."

Kevin was also required to balance people's expectations against what can be achieved in a particular timeframe.

"Liaison between the military and contractors would be the trickiest part," he said.

"It's not a bad interaction but it can be challenging when the customer or contractor is persistent in their interpretation of what is urgent.

"So far I have always managed to come to an amicable agreement."

Before joining the APS, Keven served in the Navy as a Marine Technician for over 20 years, deploying multiple times to places including East Timor and South East Asia.

He first worked for DMO then DSRG and said he had no problem operating with military personnel.

"I've been doing it for about 35 years," he said.

"Working with the military people here is the same as working with military people anywhere.

"They've got a job to do and they're very professional at it, I find it very easy to work with the dedicated people here."

Before Kevin left his APS workmates were curious to find out what his deployment would involve.

"They were interested to find out where I was going and what I would be doing," he said.

"And I imagine they'll be interested to know what I did when I'm back."

APS members who served in the ADF could be suited to deploying as a civilian but may not exactly like the idea, according to Kevin.

"I guess it would be easier for them because they're aware of what they’re putting their hand up for," he said.

"I think most of the ex-serving people in the APS left the military for a particular reason, I'd say it would depend on the reason they left in the first place as to whether they decide to deploy or not."

Though APS members on deployments don't carry weapons, they are required to do some lead-up training, including first aid.

"The basic life and routines we have here is the same as the military members but being a civie they're may be a little bit more flexible with timings etcetera but we still do what everyone else does," he said.

Despite completing numerous deployments at sea, Kevin's time in the Middle East is his first that is land-based.

"It's something different, I wanted the experience and to help out where I can," he said.

I'm 55 and my wife and I just built a new house so she had to move in by herself so I don't think she's going to let me go away again very quickly."

Kevin is due home around September this year.