TROOPER Samuel Perkins is too busy scanning the road from his Bushmaster to worry about how many days remain until he leaves Operation SLIPPER in late July.
The former Hobart resident, 24, is deployed with the Australian Army’s B Squadron, 3/4 Cavalry Regiment, from Townsville to the 205th Corps Coalition Advisory Team (205 CAT) Force Protection Platoon based at Camp Baker, Kandahar Air Field, Afghanistan.
As a Protected Mobility Vehicle (PMV) or "Bushmaster" commander, his role is one of the key enablers that assists the 30 Australians who are advising Afghan National Army officers of the 205th Hero Corps in Kandahar.
"We provide a protected lift capability to the 205 CAT which involves us moving the mentors out to Camp Hero and providing force protection each day as part of their role to train and advise the Afghan National Army officers," he said.
"It's not a long move but it is outside the Kandahar Air Field boundary and through an urban environment which brings with it some interesting challenges - we are constantly on the look out for potential threats especially at the moment with the presidential run-off occurring.
"We also regularly conduct mounted patrols in order to enable Australian 205 CAT advisors, ISAF partners and Afghan National Army counterparts to attend Provincial Security Meetings in Kandahar City and other places.
"These are always interesting trips being conducted in high threat environments from high-density urban environments to open desert terrain - these trips have been the highlight of my deployment."
"For my first operational deployment this has been an amazing experience and the challenges of the adverse weather conditions is something I won't forget.
"Winter presented us with sub zero temperatures that would freeze vehicle and weapon system components and now we are preparing to hand over with the severe hot, dry and dusty conditions that we normally associate with Afghanistan."
Away from the Bushmaster, he has also been awarded an Australian Army Soldiers Medallion for outstanding service and professionalism combined with a dedication to practical application of Combat First Aid.
The former Rosny Park Lawn Bowls Club player looks forward to returning home to visit his parents Roger and Sharon Perkins, indulging in fine Tasmanian food and wine and enjoying time off with family and friends.
The Force Protection Platoon's personnel from Townsville are drawn from B Squadron, 3/4 Cavalry Regiment and 7 Platoon, Charlie Company, 1st Battalion The Royal Australian Regiment and will all return home to Australia in late July after arriving in the Middle East in early January.
Approximately 400 Australian Defence Force (ADF) personnel are deployed to Operation Slipper in Kabul and Kandahar, Afghanistan as part of the mission to train, advise and assist the Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF).