Thirty-four New Zealand Defence Force engineers were sent to the Sinai Peninsula in January to build a 3.3-kilometre security fence around the Multinational Force and Observers’ South Camp
18 April 2017
From the extreme cold of Antarctica to the heat of Sinai Peninsula, New Zealand Defence Force engineers are proving their ability to excel in any conditions.
Seventeen NZDF engineers returned recently from six weeks in McMurdo Station in Antarctica, where they helped in construction projects for the United States Antarctic Programme, and now 34 members of the New Zealand Army’s 2 Engineer Regiment are halfway through a six-month deployment in the Sinai Peninsular.
The engineers, from the New Zealand Army’s 2 Engineer Regiment, based at Linton Military Camp, are building a 3.3-kilometre security fence around the Multinational Force and Observers’ (MFO) South Camp.
The MFO is an international organisation with peacekeeping responsibilities in the Sinai Peninsula. After operating at North Camp for more than 30 years, the mission’s headquarters and a number of troops from 11 other contributing nations that make up the MFO’s force moved to South Camp in mid-2016 because of the deteriorating security situation in North Sinai.
To accommodate the influx into South Camp, the MFO is building new facilities and requested assistance from New Zealand and other countries with some of the infrastructure projects.
The NZDF engineers have taken the hot and dry weather and the diverse cultural environment within the MFO in their stride.
Sapper Benjamin Kerr, a plant operator, said temperatures in the Sinai Peninsular were still manageable but for someone coming from Waiouru it was very challenging working in such heat.
“Nevertheless, I was very keen to get stuck into the work that was waiting for us upon arrival. It is great to be doing the job overseas that we spend so much time training for at home,” Sapper Benjamin Kerr said.
Lieutenant Tom Gilbert, the Troop Commander of the engineering team, said the sappers had a reputation in South Camp of being extremely hard workers.
“I have had comments from numerous people about how hard they’ve been working,” Lieutenant Gilbert said.
The New Zealanders’ friendly nature was also a big plus, he said.
“The Kiwis are naturally good at getting along with people from other nations and this has been proven once again in this deployment.”
The engineering team includes combat engineers, carpenters, electricians, plant operators, welders and a supply technician.
Lieutenant Colonel Terry McDonald, Commanding Officer of 2 Engineer Regiment, said NZDF sappers were trusted professionals in their trades and their skills were actively sought within the NZDF and by external partners.
“They approach every task as an opportunity and continue to serve across the globe, representing themselves, the NZDF and New Zealand to the best of their ability.”
There are currently 39 Army engineers serving in missions overseas.