Manning the gateway to the Middle East
Managing the visa requirements of the hundreds of ADF personnel who transit through the main operating base in the Middle East region (MER) every year is a complex job.
It’s a role performed by Joint Task Force 633’s Visa Coordination Cell (VCOORD). The cell ensures the smooth movement of ADF members deployed to the region, which now stands at about 1200.
Flight Sergeant Russell Vine is the VCOORD Second in Command, who oversees the small team that provides the essential immigration support.
“Our role is complex and demands quick decision-making to ensure ADF personnel transit smoothly through to their destination. It’s hard work but it is rewarding to get the job done,” Flight Sergeant Vine said.
“It takes a diverse team with a wide range of skills to make what we do happen in theatre.”
The five RAAF members from the Expeditionary Airbase Operations Unit Six, who make up VCOORD, come from a variety of musterings within Air Force.
Corporal Alyssa Hamilton, a personnel capability specialist, deployed into the role in October.
“VCOORD assists with moving all ADF members into and out of the MER and we have the pleasure of seeing all members at least twice throughout their deployment,” Corporal Hamilton said.
“We have a three-week handover for our role. It is the longest of any job in the MER, and that says a lot for the complexity involved.
“There is not a job like this back in Australia, so it has definitely been a steep learning curve, particularly with the regular arrival and departure of the Military Air Sustainment Service flights.”
Corporal Hamilton said apart from mastering the process of getting personnel in and out, people skills were essential because of the close relationship between the host nation and the VCOORD staff.
“A good relationship between us and the local staff is important, it enables a smooth transition in and out of the country,” she said.
“The host nation staff are great to deal with. They offer traditional Arabic coffee and good conversation when we are on the job.”