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A MUSICAL VOYAGE - Royal Australian Navy

A MUSICAL VOYAGE - Royal Australian Navy

- 178 – RAN BAND NEWS

- 178 – RAN BAND NEWS EDITION NUMBER 12 11 JULY 2008 RAN BAND DETACHMENT ON DEPLOYMENT IN AFGHANISTAN FROM THE DIRECTOR’S DESK As I stated in the previous edition of RAN Band News, ‘the history of the Navy Band has continued to develop at full pace’, and its record of service is no where more clearly demonstrated than in this edition. Over the past six months we have deployed 12 musicians to the Middle East including to Iraq and Afghanistan, embarked 11 musicians in HMAS Tobruk and deployed a technical team to Timor to support a Force Advisory Committee on Entertainment (FACE) tour. We conducted a number of benchmark activities including a ‘direct to air’ broadcast, one ship decommissioning ceremony and one ship commissioning ceremony, and a number of ship Farewell and Welcome Home Ceremonies. We also deployed a small musical element to support HMAS Arunta for ANZAC day in Mumbai. Throughout all of this activity we still managed to do our usual business within and around the Nation. Feedback that I have received about the contribution made by our people to the recent deployment to the Middle East has been nothing short of outstanding. The quality of our people and the capability that they bring to any event is clearly evident. I know that the people who manage these FACE sponsored tours value very highly our contribution. The ‘direct to air’ broadcast on ABC Classic FM reached more than 700,000 people and inspired the musicians with an exciting and challenging music program. We remain grateful to the team at ABC Classic FM for the confidence that they continue to show in the Navy Band and for their willingness to support wind band music in Australia and, in particular, our unique performances. The band’s contribution to ship Farewell and Welcome Home ceremonies continues to deliver a strong sense of national and naval pride to those occasions: it’s hard to imagine what those important ceremonies would be like without the Navy Band. Royal Australian Navy Band: A Musical Voyage

- 179 – Two of our people, Lieutenant Andrew Stokes and Petty Officer Cassandra Mohapp were selected for LONGLOOK exchange and are currently enjoying the hospitality of Her Majesty’s Royal Marine Band Service. Fortunately for us, we welcomed Major Tony Smallwood (RM) and Musician Jennifer Coupland take up their vacant positions. Both members are excellent ambassadors for the Royal Marines and have readily contributed to our mission in a very positive way. We regularly bring volumes of good news stories to Navy and our people are, without exception, very positive ambassadors. The level of goodwill generated within Navy towards the Navy Band has been significant; however, Navy faces significant financial challenges. Let’s hope that we will be able to continue to generate many ‘good news’ stories as Navy seeks to prioritise activities. I will be doing my best on your behalf to secure the best financial outcome possible in the current financial circumstances. Reflecting over the past six months, I am very proud of the way in which all of our musicians have performed their duties. Thanks to all for the sterling contribution to Navy and to the history of the Royal Australian Navy Band. TOUR DE FORCE 9 Article by Lieutenant Commander Paul Cottier, RAN On the 25 March 08, 12 Navy musicians boarded the weekly sustainment flight heading for the Middle East and Tour De Force 9. After a week of rehearsal in Sydney there was much anticipation and excitement. After a 26 hour flight including refuelling stops in Darwin and the Maldives, we landed at Kuwait International Airport. After a 40 minute bus trip we arrived at Ali Al Salem air base which was to be our home for the next four days. During this period we were required to undertake RSO & I training which is compulsory for all Australian military personnel posted to the Middle Eastern area of operation. This course involved presentations on current security issues as well as being issued with our armoured vests, weapons and ammunition. As part of this training we went to the firing range to zero in our weapons and ensure that we were confident and efficient on the Styer F88 rifle. Another interesting aspect of this training was visiting Camp Buehring medical facility to have a refresher in first-aid. We were able to use computer operated mannequins to fine tune our medical skills. Our first two days in Kuwait also saw us experience severe sand storms and give us a reality check on life in the Middle East. After our in-country training, we were fortunate to fly by a commercial airline to a neutral Middle Eastern Country to perform for RAAF personnel and more importantly help them celebrate the RAAF birthday. There was an increase in temperature with the daily high reaching 43.9 degrees. This was also a great opportunity for us to perform and ensure that all of our equipment was serviceable after the flight over. This commitment included a cocktail party followed by three brackets of entertainment. We were made to feel extremely welcome and a good night was had by all. The following day we headed back to Kuwait to meet up with the civilian artists who left Australia a week after us. On our return to Kuwait the rest of our touring party arrived. The party included Amy Williams, Brielle Davis, Fred Lang, Angry Anderson, The Wolverines and Tania Zietta. We also had a three person ABC film crew from Australian Story who were to film our tour for a two week documentary. With three members of the Force Advisory Council of Entertainment, the 26 person touring party was formed and ready for action. On 3 April we went to board our C130 Hercules transport aircraft dressed in all our protective body armour and weapons bound for Afghanistan; reality set in and the adrenaline started pumping. After boarding the aircraft the first disruption occurred. Our aircraft had a mechanical problem so we had a five hour delay. Second time lucky; we boarded again and off we went. It was to be a six hour flight however, due to bad weather and the closure of the airstrip in Tarin Kowt our plane was diverted to Kandahar. This was a disappointing start to the tour as all we wanted to do was perform. Our unexpected arrival in Kandahar saw us move into transit accommodation. The next day 3 April, was to bring more disappointment as the airstrip was still closed and we had to spend a second night in Kandahar. We had heard a lot about Tarin Kowt and it was looking as if we were not going to get there. Royal Australian Navy Band: A Musical Voyage

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