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Dominic Buchan - Townsville

32-year old Townsville soldier Sergeant Dominic Buchan had some big shoes to fill when he joined the Australian Defence Force.

Growing up in the North East Victorian town of Wangaratta, Dominic is the youngest of five brothers with one younger sister to serve in the Australian Army.

His father completed national service as an Ordnance Officer in the early seventies, following on from his own father who was a Postmaster in Army's 34th Brigade – deploying with the British Commonwealth Occupation Forces, he was one of the first Australian support personnel on the ground in Hiroshima, Japan, following the atomic bombing.

Then there was Dominic's paternal grandmother, who was an aircraft maintainer in the Women's Auxiliary Australian Air Force and saw active service during World War II.

This left Dominic with a legacy that was hard to ignore.

"We've always been a big military family," he said.

"Signing up just seemed like the right thing to do."

Dominic played Aussie Rules Football for the Wangaratta Junior Magpies, and filled his childhood with outdoor adventures such as motor biking, rabbiting, shooting, camping and cross country skiing.

After finishing high school he joined the Army, and 15-years later Dominic is a senior vehicle mechanic with the 1st Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment.

He is currently deployed to Southern Afghanistan as part of the Australian-led 205th Corps Advisory Team (205 CAT).

Dominic is one of approximately 20 Australian Defence Force personnel who provide training, advice and assistance to the Afghan National Army's 205th Corps headquarters based at Camp Hero in Kandahar province.

The Corps has four manoeuvre brigades and a commando battalion, which accounts for 19,000 personnel.

As Maintenance Advisor, Dominic has two counterparts in the Afghan National Army (ANA); the Corps Technical Officer and the Maintenance Company Commander for the Regional Logistics Support Centre.

Dominic said he meets with his counterparts at least three to four times a week.

"I advise on vehicle maintenance processes and procedures," he said.

"I look at opportunities for improvement and assist in monitoring problems as they track through our coalition headquarters and the Afghan Ministry of Defence in Kabul.

"At the moment we're looking at how we can either repair or dispose of approximately 100-200 battle damaged Humvee vehicles."

205 Corps has had a successful year in countering attacks by Taliban forces in the region.

Dominic said a key contributing factor to the Corps' results was its ability to keep troops and equipment fit for battle.

"Maintenance is a big part of the Corps sustainability," Dominic said.

"We have gone well beyond the training phase now; we don't go out there and teach them how to do things anymore.

"They are well and truly in the lead and we are providing advice as required."

Dominic said the friendship between the Afghans and Australians has been strong.

"We have a healthy respect for each other and a very robust working relationship," he said.

We don't have any hesitation raising problems with them and they respond well.

"Recently one of my counterparts gave me a traditional Afghan outfit for my daughter on her birthday.

"Their generosity is remarkable given what they have to offer.

"They welcome us like family and their hospitality is beyond compare."

Dominic will return to Australia in October after a ten-month deployment, at which point he's looking forward to being with his wife Leonie and four-year old daughter Cameron.

"I'm just looking forward to being a Dad again and taking some of the burden off Leonie," he said.

"She's been working longer hours than me.

"She's been a fulltime mum while running our Italian restaurant La Cucina Pizza and Pasta House in Townsville."

With the promise of returning home, Dominic said he knows there are some things he will miss about Afghanistan.

"I will certainly miss the camaraderie with the Afghan and coalition forces," he said.

"It's been very rewarding to see how other people operate."