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RAAF Physical Training Instructor at Tarin Kot

Sergeant Nadine Tyrrell from the Force Support Unit at Multi National Base – Tarin Kot trains under the watchful eye of Sergeant Debbie Grylls, a Royal Australian Air Force Physical Training Instructor.

Small of stature and loud of voice, Sergeant Debbie Grylls has left her mark on ISAF troops at Multi National Base – Tarin Kot.

RAAF Physical Training Instructor (PTI), Sergeant Grylls and Army PTI, Corporal Chad Gill from the 2nd Cavalry Regiment Task Force, assist more than 500 personnel a week during 24 training sessions to maintain their operational fitness.

Sailors, soldiers, airmen and airwomen from Australia and the United States join the PTIs daily for their gruelling training routines inside the former aircraft hangar which is known as ‘Orion’s Gym’.

Sergeant Grylls says fitness is essential for maintaining readiness and her sessions also contribute to the mental health of the troops.

“They are working long hours every day, so if they can’t make our sessions, we can also provide work-out plans for their own personal training and nutrition,” she said.

“Our charity fun runs on the base are highlights as everybody gets involved and has a good time.

“The Saint Patrick’s Day Fun Run raised more than $2500 for Legacy and the Tarin Kot Superhero Run in June drew 235 competitors who all wore inventive and colourful costumes.

“It was a fantastic opportunity to be deployed to Afghanistan as a PTI.”

Squadron Leader Ashley Hill from Combined Team Uruzgan (CTU) says Sergeant Grylls’ sessions epitomise the ethos of CTU – courage, teamwork and unity.

“She drives us individually to our own physical limits but by making the sessions teamwork focused, she provides an opportunity for ISAF personnel to work together, breakdown cultural barriers, unite and achieve success.” he said.

During her seven-month deployment Sergeant Grylls was attached to Multi National Base Command – Tarin Kot (MNBC-TK) Force Protection Security Section (FPSS).

FPSS conduct daily operations at Tarin Kot including screening, base entry and exit searches, biometric testing and enrolment as well as prohibited substance testing.

Sergeant Grylls said at one stage FPSS were short of female personnel and she assisted with the screening of female local nationals being processed for civilian flights.

“Meeting a young girl who had lost her leg was one of the most confronting experiences I have had,” she said.

“It really brought home the realities of this conflict and the effects it has on the civilian population.

“I was also tasked for casualty security at the Role 2 Medical Facility which was another real eye-opener.

“I think I have changed a bit – the personal and professional development I achieved in Afghanistan was unexpected. I didn’t fully realise the new skills I had learnt or the worthwhile experiences which happened until the end of my deployment.”