Commander up for the challenge




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‘‘I’m really excited about the new job. The key vision will be around trying to make Woodbourne an attractive place for posting,’’ says Base Woodbourne’s new commander, Wing Commander Paul Drysdale. ‘‘My focus will be around looking at the training system and how that’s working and continuing to tell the organisation that Woodbourne is a military air base that delivers training, and is a rewarding place to post to.’’ Aside from the excellent weather Woodbourne enjoys, the base offers a great deal to personnel, he said. ‘‘It’s the satisfaction of seeing new people come into the organisation as untrained and leaving the base as trained and effectively qualified tradespeople. ‘‘It’s an inspiring place to be – particularly with all the young people coming through on their courses. There’s an energy to it. ‘‘We’re also working on Te Whare Manaakitanga, Community Centre, being built here, which will be a key piece in bringing the community together and making a real community feel.’’ Initially joining the army’s 2nd/1st Battalion as an infantry soldier in 1988, Drysdale corpschanged to signals corps before service-changing nine years later to the air force, commissioning as a communications and information systems officer. ‘‘Since then I’ve spent some time at Joint Forces Headquarters, on an overseas deployment to Bahrain with the Combined Maritime Forces (CMF), then into director of career management in Wellington.’’ His deployment to Bahrain was a particular highlight. ‘‘I had an Italian officer and a Korean officer who worked for me and our job was effectively to plan and bring nations in to join the CMF for their six-month deployment.’’ He also spent three years in the United States as the communications and electronics liaison officer, based out of the embassy in Washington DC. ‘‘I worked a lot in the Pentagon – that was a really good posting and it was great to take the family with me too. ‘‘That was 2006–2009. We watched the Obama inauguration on TV from our home in Washington, it was fascinating to see a real change in history.’’ Now, with his new command role, Drysdale is looking forward to being back on a base, but recognises there will be different challenges to face. ‘‘We’re trying to make sure that the Covid situation brings as little disruption as possible to the base and the training that we deliver. We have a pretty strict set of protocols around making sure that Covid is kept at bay. ‘‘The big piece for us is protecting the force. People come in and out of the base and the last thing we need is to be a vector for the virus.’’ This story first appeared in Air Force News and is republished with permission.