John Frewen - The operations cell

Running time
2 min 57 sec
Department of Veterans' Affairs


So when I was in Kigali with the main force, I was an ops captain. So we would typically get up in the morning and do probably organized PT, some physical training exercise. There were a number of days a week we would also do weapons training and things, just to make sure we remain competent on the weapons. That would also involve taking all your ammunition, out of your magazines, to ease the springs in the magazines and things.

So we were learning to live in and around weapons for prolonged periods of time. Then I would spend the day in the op cell, a small room, couple of sergeants and myself monitoring the radios hearing what was going on with the various deployed outposts and the like writing reports. We also were responsible for issuing the orders for any groups that were going outside of the compound or outside of Kigali on tasks, various. I mean, there was all sorts of tasks that happen through the course of the deployment.

We would send teams out to respond to some sort of incident or crises. We were sending detachments out to set up temporary medical facilities in remote parts of the country. We helped with vaccinations, we even helped with the distribution of the new currency at one stage. So there were always teams moving in and out. And we in the op cell we're responsible for preparing them, making sure they had the orders, making sure that they knew exactly what to do.

If things happened and things would... there'd be traffic crashes would happen or people would come across traffic crashes. We had the ambulance detachment that we had were attached to us. So often we would have to dispatch ambulances out to pick up casualties. There'd be lunch through the course of the day, in the afternoon, more of the same. And then usually in the evening there would be a daily situation report that would have to be sent back to Australia. So we would compile that together for the CO.

On quiet days, sometimes if we had an opportunity, we would go down to the surgery and jump into the surgery with the surgeons and either watch what they're up to or help out just for something different. And that was also a new opportunity for us to see things that we would normally have seen and to see. There were wounds coming through, not just from machete style wounds, but there were still landmines and hand grenades and things going off and people were getting shot. So we were getting to experience battle type wounds and battle medicine as well at the same time. So that was, it was an interesting distraction as well.

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