On 23 May 2016, after months of planning, a Royal Australian Air Force C-17A Globemaster III, from Amberley-based No. 36 Squadron, touched down in Juba, South Sudan for the yearly supply run.
The C-17A brought much needed supplies to Australian Defence Force personnel deployed on Operation ASLAN the ADF contribution to the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS).
Also intended for a New Zealand Contingent who are working in UNMISS, the flight brought items such as personnel protective equipment, rations, bulk water, weapons and ammunition; as well as other stores that are not readily available in the land locked country.
The flight is also used to return ADF equipment back to the National Support Base (NSE).
The landing of the C-17A was the culmination of efforts spearheaded by the Op ASLAN NSE, with Officer in Command NSE, FLTLT Donna Watts-Endresz saying that her small team including SGT Graham Schnaars (RAAF) and SGT Anthony Huxtable (Army) definitely punched above their weight to get the task completed on time.
“Coordination between UNMISS, the Government of South Sudan, Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA), HQ JTF 633 and local contractors required patience and good communication especially with the language difficulties,” FLTLT Watts-Endresz said.
“It was a challenging task to complete but prior planning and engagement was key to a smooth operation on the day.”
Operation ASLAN is normally supported by the Juba based NSE through the 39th Operational Support Battalion in Randwick with delivery affected by contractor. This arrangement works for minor items, however, it is somewhat limited when delivery of secure, heavy or bulky items are required.
Prioritising air loads for routine sustainment flights is difficult enough, however planning for a once a year flight becomes increasingly complex. It is therefore a key responsibility of the NSE to plan and prepare in detail this annual sustainment flight.