Home' Defence Magazine : Issue 2 2010 Contents 32 www.defence.gov.au/defencemagazine
1ST JOINT PUBLIC AFFAIRS UNIT
Behind the lens;
outside the wire
By Jack Foster
“What we find with these work placements is that
our guys are well and truly at industry standard,
and it’s a confidence boost to know that they match
it with the best.
“We’re the hunters and gatherers and we engage
and embed with the various task groups to create
opportunities to proactively promote the work
Defence is involved in.
“Without this, no one would use our product,”
MAJ Maxwell said.
Becoming part of an MCT team is by no means
Army members are required to have at least
three years experience in their Service, before
completing a 33-week photographic course at
RAAF Base East Sale.
“The course, a prerequisite for anyone wishing
to join the unit, is extremely professional and
intensive,” MAJ Maxwell said.
“While many people come to us with existing
qualifications in the field, this course uniquely
shows, in detail, how to capture imagery and video
in the defence environment.”
With bags packed and ready to leave anywhere
in less than two hours notice, Defence Magazine
spoke with MCT members Captain Peter Martinelli
and Corporals Hamish Paterson and Rachel Ingram
on some of their experiences.
Previously a signaller, Corporal Ingram became the
first female photographer to serve with a combat
task group on patrol during her recent six-month
deployment to Afghanistan.
Corporal Ingram said she had always been
interested in military history and naturally
progressed into her new role.
“I used to love looking at historical military photos
and just thought one day, ‘someone has to take
those’,” Corporal Ingram said.
“The work is gruelling. The days are long. And you
get extremely fatigued.
“In fact, the mental and physical toughness is the
most difficult I’ve faced in 15 years.
“But I know I am helping show Australia exactly
what these boys go through and what risks they
are taking. These soldiers are putting their life on
the line and it’s a privilege to be able to show that
to people back home.”
Captain Martinelli said that MCT members carry
out several functions while on patrol.
“You have to be tactically sound but you also need
to be able to contribute to a patrol while carrying
out your pubic affairs duties,” Captain Martinelli
“After being a journalist and Reservist, to now
being here, I’ve really developed a greater
understanding and respect on what we can bring
to the fight, in a strategic sense.”
Originally an infantryman, Corporal Paterson helps
describe some of the physical challenges MCT
members face while on operations.
“You’re moving with a patrol, but you’ve got to
“We’re the hunters
and gatherers and we
engage and embed
with the various task
groups to create
the work Defence is
- Officer Commanding 1st Joint
Public Affairs Unit,
Major Brendan Maxwell
They are agile, tactile, and work gruelling hours across the world. And without them, most Australians
would never see the critical work being done by our serving men and women.
work to the front, to the back and to the bricks on
the side,” CPL Paterson said.
“Don’t take anything away from the patrol, but
even when you return, you are spending time filing
and transmitting product back to Australia.”
Captain Martinelli added that it was all about
“You live pretty closely with each other but you
end up with some pretty funny in-jokes and share
a wave length that no one else understands,”
Captain Martinelli said.
Corporal Paterson said it was this type of work
ethic that helped gain the respect of fellow task
group and patrol members.
“You really have to earn that respect,” Corporal
Paterson said. “But when they see what we’re
delivering, they are always keen to have us back.”
While pictures tell an obvious story, some,
according to Corporal Paterson, are more subtle.
“We had a shot of a group of soldiers warming
themselves around small fires in Afghanistan,”
“They all had beards so a lot of people thought
they were special operations soldiers but this
wasn’t the case. It was actually a patrol group that
had been snowed in for five weeks—all still there
with the same set of clothes and having to deal
with temperatures as low as minus 15 degrees.
“You may not think about it at the time, but a
lot of these photos will be in the Australian War
Memorial for years to come.”
defence magazine ›
Welcome to the world of Defence’s military camera teams within the 1st Joint Public Affairs
Deploying to nearly every area of operation including recently to Afghanistan as well as
last year’s Black Saturday fires and the Samoan tsunami relief effort, these hunter-gatherer
teams provide thousands of professional photographs and hours of high-quality footage for
the Australian media and public.
Their work also features extensively on this page and throughout each edition of Defence
Magazine and many other publications.
Officer Commanding 1JPAU Major (MAJ) Brendan Maxwell said his focus was ensuring
each of his four military camera teams (MCT) had skills that were of the highest industry
One of the more innovative ways MCT members ensure the standard of their skills remains
high is through industry work placements.
“When not on operations, members work directly with either The Canberra Times or the
local television news station to create real product in real time for a real audience,”
MAJ Maxwell said.
Although only a relatively short distance from Tarin Kowt, the Garmab Valley
is flanked by barren mountain sides. Here, members of Australia’s Special
Operations Task Group (SOTG) and local Afghan police access the area on
foot in December last year. Photo: LT Aaron Oldaker
ABOVe: A coalition helicopter provides close air support
to a convoy travelling from Tarin Kowt to Kandahar in
January, enabling the 4th Afhgan National Army Brigade
to sustain its operations in Oruzgan province.
Photo: CPL Cheyne Jones
ABOVe: Sunrise in Mirabad - Australian and Afghan soldiers step off on
another security patrol. Photo: SGT Mick Davis
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