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Andrew enjoys making a difference in Afghanistan

THE Gold Coast's Andrew Roberts is mentoring the next generation of the Afghan National Army personnel in an emerging highland camp above Kabul deployed under Operation Slipper.

Warrant Officer Class 1 (WO1) Roberts, 43, is the regimental Sergeant Major at Camp Qargha where Australian personnel are mentoring officers at the Afghan National Army Officer Academy.

The son of David and Sandra Roberts from the Sydney and Wollongong areas said he is proud to be one of 400 Australians who are playing their part in shaping the future defence force of a democratic Afghanistan.

"It has been a rewarding experience watching the ongoing development and progress of the Afghan National Army Officer Academy, both the staff and officer cadets," he said.

"From day one of uncertainty to an organisation that is delivering comparatively excellent training, evident in the performance of the officer cadets who are receiving training from the Afghan National Army officers and sergeants delivering the curriculum.

"The second memorable moment I have is the many new and enduring friendships with people from other nations including New Zealand, the United Kingdom, Denmark and Norway.

"I have also caught up with two individuals on the other side of the world who I attended Australian Command and Staff College with, one who is a Kiwi - it's a very small world!

"Having Australian mentors involved in this mission is an excellent way to showcase the professional skill sets of our Army in the international arena.

"Our people are making significant contributions to support and enhance the mission under some pretty trying conditions and have been instrumental in the success it is enjoying to date.

"It speaks well of the Australian soldier’s flexibility, adaptability, professional outlook and genuine desire to assist people in need."

WO1 Roberts's role is to mentor an Afghan Regimental Sergeant Major to support his Commanding Officer in the conduct of the unit operations and provide a strong leadership role to the officers and subordinate soldiers.

He is also mentoring Afghan senior soldiers on how to plan and organise, develop policy and procedures to support the Academy and officer training as well as encourage them to challenge cultural bias for the purpose of personal and professional development.

Back at home at Canungra, he supports the Commanding Officer in all aspects of unit operations, training, discipline, ceremonial activities, administrative law, policy development, governance, leadership, soldier career development and management.

WO1 Robert lives in Surfers Paradise with his wife Michelle Roberts and misses the coastal lifestyle while deployed in the landlocked nation.

"At home I conducted free personal training and fitness classes for locals five days a week when I was home and did it for 18 months before deploying," he said.

"I can’t wait to get back there and start the classes again. I really enjoy the lifestyle of Surfers Paradise with the beach, the pace, training locations and the weather."

The 27-year Army veteran has deployed to Afghanistan three times and has also deployed to Timor Leste, Solomon Islands and Iraq.

He also counts his visit to the 75th Anniversary of the Landings at Gallipoli and a five-month Anzac exchange to New Zealand among his career highlights.