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Benjamin Richardson - Woodend

Three years of hard military training has paid off for Private Benjamin Richardson, who recently deployed to Afghanistan.

The 24-year-old ex-Woodend local recently deployed to Kabul, Afghanistan on Operation Highroad, where he provides force protection to Australians working alongside their Afghan counterparts.

Deployed as part of Force Protection Element 8, Private Richardson said he feels he is helping the Afghan people.

“We’re here to ensure the Taliban and other insurgent groups can’t use Afghanistan as a safe haven and launch attacks from here,” he said.

“By achieving our mission, we’re also helping the 34 million civilians who live here to improve their quality of life.

“Everyone, regardless of where they are born, deserves a fair chance at life.”

A keen hunter and target-shooter, Private Richardson said the best part of his deployment was how every day is different.

“We provide force protection and transport to the Australian mentors who work with the Afghan National Security and Defence Forces,” he said.

“Driving around Kabul in our up-armoured Land Cruisers is definitely something I won’t forget.

“We also get a fair bit of time on the range with a bunch of different weapons, which is a shooter’s dream.”

Private Richardson said his deployment was the most challenging, yet exciting, experience of his life.

There is, however, a down-side.

“Being away from my fiancĂ©e Airlie, my family, friends and dogs is never fun,” he said.

“When I get home, I’m looking forward to marrying Airlie and celebrating with our family and friends.”

He returns home to Townsville in early 2018.

ADF personnel deployed on Operation Highroad are working as part of the international community to provide long-term support to the Government of Afghanistan.

About 270 ADF personnel are deployed in the Kabul, Bagram and Kandahar regions as part of Operation Highroad, Australia's contribution to the NATO-led Resolute Support mission.