Carla’s ashore – in the Middle East

Middle East USA World

There wouldn’t be many Paihia folk who can say that they’ve been deployed to Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula as a naval military policewoman, but former Kerikeri High School student Petty Officer Military Police Carla Marsh is doing just that.

Normally stationed at Auckland’s Devonport Naval Base, this is her first land deployment after seven years with the Royal New Zealand Navy. She’s part of the Kiwi contingent working with the Multinational Force and Observers (MFO), an international peacekeeping force overseeing the terms of the peace treaty between Egypt and Israel.

Carla decided to join the navy because of her love for the sea, and then to become a military policewoman because of a passion for doing the right thing and leading by example.

“I’m really interested in investigations and enjoy talking to people,” she said.

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“A lot of our job is problem-solving, so I like the challenge of that, and no two days are the same. I like being able to help others when they have an issue that needs resolving, and we also get to work with the New Zealand police.”

Her Military Police role in New Zealand is diverse, ranging from general policing duties to investigations involving military personnel, but in the Sinai she’s the section commander at the Force Military Police Unit in South Camp.

“Our mission is to ensure maintenance of discipline and good order within the MFO, taking into consideration the jurisdiction, authority, powers and discretion of the Force Provost Marshal,” she said.

“As a section commander my job is to facilitate the daily operation of the Force Military Police Unit, ensuring preventative policing and continuation training is conducted, responding to incidents and conducting on-base security patrols to support the MFO mission.”

Being deployed in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic has made life interesting for the New Zealanders, but thanks to an early introduction of lockdown procedures and isolation of the camps, on March 10, there have been no cases of Covid-19 within the MFO, and life has continued relatively normally.

Meanwhile PO Marsh will soon be able to turn her attention to heading home, although the normally six-month deployment is likely to run slightly longer because of the difficulties in returning to New Zealand.

NZDF personnel normally rotate out of missions every six to 12 months, depending on the nature of the deployment. Border closures, travel restrictions and other measures imposed to restrict the spread of Covid-19 mean this contingent is still waiting to hear when they’ll be able to return home.

“This has been an amazing six months. There are not many jobs in the world where you can be moved 10,000km from home to do a job that helps maintain world peace. The MFO has been in the Sinai for 38 years, and by being here we’ve helped defuse one of the world’s hot spots. Knowing this makes being away from home worthwhile.”

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