An Auckland airman is getting first-hand experience of the constant tension along the border between North and South Korea.
Flight lieutenant Rob Bexley works in the most heavily militarised frontier in the world. The NZ Defence Force officer is helping the United Nations Command monitor the transportation corridor in the southern fence line of the 250km-long demilitarised zone (DMZ).
“The atmosphere in the DMZ is tense,” he said.
“For the South Korean troops stationed here, the threat from North Korea is real and immediate.”
The assistant corridor control officer in the United States-led UN Command Military Armistice Commission Secretariat (UNCMAC-S), he says the threat comes not just from missiles, but also the artillery along the border and, more recently, drones.
His team, led by a Danish army major, monitors the western crossing point into North Korea.
It also inspects guard posts and observation posts in the zone’s southern partition to ensure South Korean compliance.
New Zealand has contributed to the UNCMAC-S since 2003 and has five members monitoring the armistice and performing operational, education, liaison and corridor control function for the secretariat.
Mr Bexley joined the navy in 2001 after completing a bachelor’s degree in information systems at Massey University. He shifted the the air force in 2012.
As on previous deployments, he has with him a family Bible that his grandfather and great grandfather took with them while serving during the two World Wars.
“Although the operations I have been on cannot be compared to what they fought through, I brought it as a talisman of sorts to keep me safe.” NZN