Lieutenant Aaron Jackson
After two months of jungle training at Canungra on the Gold Coast hinterland, the Lieutenant and his platoon of 40 Reserve soldiers deployed to East Timor for eight months.
Aaron and his diggers are a key part of the 500-strong Australian-led international force in East Timor. They are there at the invitation of the East Timorese government to help provide stability while local groups sort out their differences in a peaceful and democratic way.
“I already work on the theory side, helping develop joint warfare doctrine,” said Aaron, who works in the Department of Defence as a civilian, “But commanding soldiers on the street will be a very different challenge.
“The Reserve has been used as peacekeepers in the Solomon Islands for years — now our role has been expanded to include East Timor.
“Basically we’ll be supporting the East Timorese forces. We’ll be patrolling, getting involved in community projects, generally making people feel secure — which will contribute to peaceful economic development.
“But eight months away is a long time. We get four weeks of leave when we get back so I’ll be celebrating my return home by taking Maricel out for high tea, which she loves, and I’ll take my parents out to dinner, too. I have until February to decide where.”
While he’s away Aaron will earn the Australian Service Medal with East Timor clasp, and the East Timor Solidarity Medal will be awarded to him by the East Timor government.
Of the 60,000 Australians entitled to wear Army uniform, some 17,000 are Active Reservists. They are all volunteers and have to volunteer again if they want to deploy overseas.
Reservists also take part in Australia-based security operations such as the Commonwealth Games, and in disaster relief and rescue operations. Their employers receive financial assistance to offset the costs of their absence.