Wing Commander (WGCDR) Terry McLennan is the chief engineer in the Middle East Area of Operations.
Wing Commander (WGCDR) Terry McLennan is the chief engineer in the Middle East Area of Operations. LSIS Andrew Dakin

Skills fuel ADF career

FOR Wing Commander Terry McLennan, of Warwick, his Reserve role while deployed in the Middle East Area of Operation is really an extension of his civilian occupation with John Holland Pty Ltd.

Leaving the permanent Air Force after a 12 year career, Terry joined John Holland four years ago, working as an onsite project engineer.

"I joined the Royal Australian Air Force as an airfield engineer while studying my undergraduate degree in Civil Engineering at the University of Southern Queensland," Terry said.

Being deployed to the MEAO since August 2012, Terry has filled the position of chief engineer on Headquarters Joint Task Force 633, being responsible for Australian Defence Force facilities and infrastructure across the Middle East and Afghanistan.

His responsibilities cover maintenance of base facilities, minor new works, such hard-standing areas, as well as capital and infrastructure works across locations in the United Arab Emirates, Iraq and Afghanistan.

"I also have technical control over the engineers based under the Provincial Reconstruction Team (PRT) in Tarin Kot," Terry said.

"They are undertaking projects such as reconstructing 14 km of road in Uruzgan, rebuilding the Radio and Television Afghanistan building in Tarin Kot after an insurgent attack, building ablutions in detention centres also in Tarin Kot and developing a solid waste management site for the town of Tarin Kot."

Additionally, Terry is overseeing the move of the Trade Training School, currently operated under the PRT at Camp Holland, into Tarin Kot as well as working with the transition and redeployment team.

"My main effort in the last couple of months has been the deconstruction of Australian infrastructure at Camp Holland as part of the remediation of the Multi-National Base," he said.

The current deployment is the third for Terry into the MEAO, with previous deployments with Reconstruction Task Forces 2 and 3 into Afghanistan during 2007 and 2008.

"In this role, I was the engineer responsible for the airfield at Tarin Kot which, being gravel back then, required constant maintenance, unlike the all-weather concrete runway now."

For Terry, it was his Defence experience in airfield infrastructure which assisted him in first moving to John Holland under the C17 project at RAAF Base Amberley.

His additional experience in construction since then has enabled him to deploy again with the ADF, bringing a range of civilian skills into the operational zone.

He says undertaking the deployment was made easier with the support of John Holland as his civilian employer.

"Once I was aware of the opportunity to deploy, I spoke with my human resources manager.

They were very supportive as John Holland Pty Ltd has previously signed with the Cadet, Reserve Employer Support Division under Defence to be recognised as a supportive employer."

Operation Slipper is Australia's military contribution to the international campaign against terrorism, maritime security in the Middle East Area of Operations and countering piracy in the Gulf of Aden.

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