Lieutenant Tom Gilbert is leading a 35-member New Zealand Defence Force engineering contingent that left today for the Sinai Peninsula to build a security fence for an international peacekeeping force.
13 January 2017
In high school, Tom Gilbert led fellow students.
Now the former deputy head boy of Central Hawke’s Bay College is leading a 35-member New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF) engineering contingent bound for the Sinai Peninsula.
“It is a massive honour to lead NZDF personnel on operations overseas,” Lieutenant Gilbert, a Troop Commander in the New Zealand Army’s 2nd Field Squadron, said.
“A position of leadership comes with a unique set of challenges, which I very much look forward to. Every officer aspires to lead soldiers on operations and few get this opportunity.
“I am very humbled to be chosen to lead the contingent. It is my last year of troop command, so this deployment is the perfect way to finish my term as troop commander.”
Lieutenant Gilbert is leading a contingent comprising combat engineers, carpenters, plumbers, maintenance fitters and electricians from the New Zealand Army’s 2nd Engineer Regiment. The contingent left this morning to build a security fence around the Multinational Force and Observers’ (MFO) South Camp over the next six months.
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 the 12 nations that make up the MFO’s Force moved to South Camp in mid-2016 because of the deteriorating security situation in North Sinai.
The MFO is building new facilities to accommodate the influx into South Camp and requested assistance from New Zealand and other countries with some of the infrastructure projects.
“I had my sights set on becoming an engineer, and leading sappers on operations exceeds any expectations I had when I joined,” said Lieutenant Gilbert, 23, who enlisted in the Army in 2012 straight from high school.
A number of his relatives served in the Army and the Navy and he regularly heard captivating stories of their wartime experiences while growing up.
“My soldiers motivate me to do well in my role. As troop commander, my success has a direct impact on them,” he said.
“My family has been extremely supportive and that is another big motivation for me. We have a strong history with the military and I work hard to succeed in my role to honour them and make them proud.”