Australian Army officer Neil Grierson says he is proof persistence in chasing your dream pays off as he looks forward to the coming months in Afghanistan while deployed on Operation HIGHROAD.
The former Rockhampton Grammar School student said he was told he would not be successful if he applied for the Army, but his persistence to achieve his life dream in 1991 has resulted in multiple deployments over a long career.
Currently the Task Group Afghanistan Chief of Staff, Lieutenant Colonel (LTCOL) Grierson has deployed to a long list of countries including Iraq, Kuwait, Papua New Guinea, England, the United States and more.
As the Chief of Staff, LTCOL Grierson is responsible for the day-to-day running of the task group, comprising approximately 270 personnel deployed around the a number of areas in Afghanistan.
"I'm responsible for ensuring that personnel deployed to the task group are able to focus on their key responsibilities, without being concerned that they aren't being supported locally and at home," he said.
"It's a mix of utilising my training and experience to assist and guide those I work with, as well as directly supporting the Commander and contingent to ensure the broader success of Australia's mission in Afghanistan.
"Deploying as an Australian into an operational theatre has many positives, however working with our deployed Australian Defence Force personnel and our Coalition partners is by far the highlight.
"Alongside that, the insight this particular position offers into the running of a deployed task group, as well as the broader operational and strategic environment we work in, is particularly rewarding."
LTCOL Grierson said he would recommend a career with the ADF to anyone who was interested.
"Defence offers a number of opportunities to grow and develop as a person and to travel Australia and the world," he said.
"There are other benefits as well. When you join Defence you become part of a larger family and you have the ability to make a difference both at the personal level and as someone who contributes to something important."
At the completion of his deployment in late 2017, LTCOL Grierson returns home to Canberra to his wife, Rebecca, and their four children, Kaleb, Noah, Arabella and Violet.
ADF personnel deployed on Operation HIGHROAD are working as part of the international community to provide long-term support to the Government of Afghanistan.
About 270 ADF personnel are deployed in Kabul and Kandahar as part of Operation HIGHROAD, Australia's contribution to the NATO led Resolute Support mission.