Squadron leader inspired by grandfather
A passion to follow in the footsteps of a beloved family member was the impetus for Squadron Leader Adrian Rodgers to serve the nation.
Deployed on Operation Mazurka, which is Australia’s commitment to the multinational force and observers’ mission in Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula, Squadron Leader Rodgers’ grandfather inspired him to join the Air Force.
“Grandpa was part of the 6th Division, 16 Brigade, 2nd/1st Battalion and deployed to the Middle East, spending 343 days on active service from April 1941 until March 1942,” Squadron Leader Rodgers said.
“He then transferred to the Air Force as an airman and commissioned for pilot training and qualified on the Lancaster bomber before being posted to 460 Squadron, Royal Australian Air Force later in the war.
“His story and his service were my motivations to join the Air Force.”
A ground defence officer based at RAAF Base Amberley, Squadron Leader Rodgers enlisted in the Air Force in 1994 at his hometown of Canberra, and was commissioned eight years later.
Twenty-five years on, the veteran of three previous Middle East deployments, and one to the Solomon Islands, is the Force Field Liaison Officer between Remote Site 3 at the Egypt/Israel border of Taba/Eilat.
“My primary role is to help facilitate the communication, coordination and cooperation between treaty parties and the multinational force,” Squadron Leader Rodgers said.
“I report directly to the Deputy Chief of Liaison, a Fijian lieutenant colonel, and the Chief Liaison Officer, who is a Canadian colonel.
“We constantly link with the Egyptian Liaison Agency with International Organizations (LAWIO) in Taba and the Israeli Defense Force International Cooperation Division in Eilat.”
Squadron Leader Rodgers said the multinational aspect of the observer force and the location made his job an interesting one.
“Remote Site 3 is secured by a Columbian infantry section that doesn’t speak a lot of English and relies on a translator, while the LAWIO officers’ English proficiency varies considerably,” Squadron Leader Rodgers said.
“During this deployment, I wanted to challenge myself in a multinational environment by strengthening relationships and understanding cultural considerations of the force and treaty partners that support strategic efforts for the region.
“Learning basic and common phrases in Spanish, Arabic and Hebrew has assisted in building and maintaining rapport.”
The married father of two, who is an avid trail runner at home, said the complexities of COVID-19 had added extra pressures to his role.
“Every day you are working with representatives of 12 other nations in a region that has a turbulent history,” Squadron Leader Rodgers said.
“You add the pandemic into the mix and the pressures of a six- to eight-month deployment where travel is restricted and separation from family is amplified − it adds up to a true test of resilience.”
Despite the challenges, Squadron Leader Rodgers says he would not have chosen any other profession.
“Service to your nation comes with significant responsibilities, but it is incredibly rewarding”, he said.
“It is one of those few vocations that you can honestly walk away from every day and confidently say you made a difference.”