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Brian Hickey - Toowoomba

At the age of 34, Toowoomba man Brian Hickey is already an experienced veteran with three deployments under his belt.

Currently in Iraq with Task Group Taji Four (TGT-4), the Australian Army Officer has an important role in the fight against Daesh.

"I'm the Officer Commanding of the 'Advise and Assist' unit that works closely with Northern Baghdad Operations Command," Major Hickey said.

"Our role is to provide advice and assistance to the Iraqis in the northern Baghdad area of operations so they can defeat Daesh and maintain security in Iraq.

"It's an important job that means we are helping to protect our own troops from potential Daesh attacks and helping the Iraqis to succeed in restoring peace and security to their country."

TGT-4 is a combined force of Australian and New Zealand Defence Force personnel on a mission to build partner capacity among Iraqi Security Forces.

While most of the Task Group is deployed to train the Iraqis, Major Hickey's Australian team is providing advice and assistance – giving the Iraqi Army access to coalition know-how.

In one recent case, the Australian team was able to give the Iraqis access to surveillance data that led to the identification of a weapons cache and a Daesh safe house.

Iraq Security Forces then seized the weapons and prevented a suicide bomb attack, saving lives.

"We're making Baghdad a safer place," Major Hickey said.

"The Iraqis tell us there used to be a high crime rate and regular explosions. Families were in danger and people were afraid to leave their homes.

"One Iraqi Army officer told me that his brother was shot dead on his doorstep in Baghdad. That kind of thing used to happen every day.

"We're helping the Iraqis to remove the threat from the northern Baghdad area and approach routes, by giving them access to the information they need to do their job."

Major Hickey's unit is also strengthening protection measures for Australian, New Zealand and coalition troops based at the Taji Military Complex in the northern Baghdad area.

The Advise and Assist unit is also helping to keep Task Group Taji's training up-to-date so that the Iraqis are shown how to deal with changing threats such as IEDs.

"Coming to Iraq has been the highlight of my career.

"We're seeing a direct result of our activities by helping the Iraqis to stop weapons getting in and out of Baghdad and prevent suicide bomb attacks."

"It's also great to work in a dynamic team. As an Army Officer, you see your team go through the phases of 'storming, norming and performing'.

"Everyone is performing here and we can see we’re making a difference in Iraq."

Before joining the Army, Major Hickey attended Downlands College and the University of Southern Queensland, where he completed a business degree.

A keen Cowboys supporter, he also played rugby for the University of Southern Queensland Rugby Club.

At the Royal Military College – Duntroon, he decided to join the Royal Australian Armoured Corps and used his skills as a tank commander in Afghanistan before deploying to Iraq.

"A highlight was when I commanded a convoy transporting an Afghan Army battalion from Tarin Kot to Kabul, to provide reinforcements," he said.

"The convoy included 180 Afghan vehicles and 12 Australian vehicles – it was around 20km long."

"The distance was 743 km one way and we had to travel through multiple areas of operations held by other coalition nations. It was great to achieve our mission after many days of planning."

At the end of his current deployment in Iraq, Major Hickey is looking forward to seeing friends and family at home – particularly his wife and young son.

"I'm looking forward to a home-cooked meal," he said.

"I'm also looking forward to relaxing with my family and going to the beach."

Major Brian Hickey is a member of Task Group Taji 4, a combined force of Australian and New Zealand Defence Force personnel training Iraqi Security Forces to defeat Daesh and maintain security in Iraq. There are around 300 Australian and 100 New Zealanders in the Task Group.