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Mark Eagling - Penguin

Protecting Australian Defence Force personnel in Afghanistan is a long way from Mark Eagling's childhood in Penguin, Tasmania.

As an Army Rifleman, Private Mark Eagling provides critical force protection for Australians and coalition partners who are mentoring Afghan forces at the Afghan National Army Officer Academy.

or Mark, his first deployment is both rewarding and challenging.

"In terms of force protection I need to be ready for anything; constantly scanning the whole environment so that it is safe for our ADF mentors while they teach," Mark said.

"Our work here is important in helping the Afghan Forces to be a self-sufficient and capable organisation."

Back home Mark is posted to South Australia's 7th Battalion Royal Australian Regiment.

Deploying to Afghanistan for Operation HIGHROAD is something he has trained hard for.

"It's great to be doing my job for real on operations, although I miss almost everything about home like having a laugh with family and friends."

Operation HIGHROAD is focused on training, advising and assisting the Afghan National Defense and Security Forces (ANDSF), and Afghan security institutions at the operational, institutional, and ministerial levels.

Around 270 personnel from the Royal Australian Navy, the Australian Army, the Royal Australian Air Force and Defence civilians are deployed on Operation HIGHROAD as part of Australia's commitment to the NATO mission in Afghanistan.