Everything Becomes an Ops Thing, Eventually
Captain C. Bond
Greetings from sunny Ali Al Salem Air Base! Lt Charles Coxhead, a pair of other duty officers (honourable mentions to Lt Mitchell Dixon and Capt Brett Kuzek, and the J33, Capt Henry Helmer-Smith), and I make up the JOC’s population of the J3 staff under Major Ryan Lee. Our duties include preparation of the Weekly Situation Report to CJOC, in Ottawa, the tracking of all personnel moves throughout the Joint Operations Area (JOA), and the coordination of any ground moves, such as trips to the airport, or the Diplomatic Officer’s staff going to the Embassies in Kuwait City. It is an excellent opportunity to experience staff officer life in an Operations Centre and see what the Operations side of an actual multi-branch effort looks like.
While it is hard not to miss home, the desert has a sort of charm to it. The longer summer days of Edmonton do not exist here, being close to the equator. The sun falling at 1830L means one has to be diligent in remembering their PT belt if they plan to walk to dinner, lest they be assigned the unenviable secondary duty of gate guard at dusk, to prevent others from making the same mistake. There are also different sorts of wildlife than one might expect in beloved Alberta. Notably, scorpions, which are very difficult to see at night and even harder to catch out in the open where they can be captured and turned into resin-encased souvenirs. The lack of the colour green isn’t as much of a shock, as much of Wainwright is also a sort of dun colour. There is one particularly verdant patch south of the camp, albeit featuring a noisome smell which tends to ward off those that would admire it.
Being part of a multi-lateral, multi-national operation like this is a huge opportunity, and a great way for junior officers to gain experience in the Ops side of the house. From working with our American counterparts to avoid bunker drills every time their Explosive Ordinance Disposal team destroys an unexploded object in the desert to cigar night with the Danish contingent, the opportunity to operate and learn from our allies is a great gift. We are grateful for the learning opportunity we have received here. We look forward to catching up with everyone at the EGOM, or the Mariner Room, as there is no establishment here quite like them.