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Stuart Graham - Googong

While many other fathers are unwrapping presents this morning, Lieutenant Colonel (LTCOL) Stuart Graham will be busy in the Middle East preparing ADF responses to a number of potential situations.

The Army officer, 53, will spend Father's Day away from his family, while on deployment to Operation ACCORDION where he provides support to ADF operations across the Middle East region.

This is not the first time LTCOL Graham has spent a Father's Day away from his family, having deployed previously to Namibia, East Timor, Iraq and the Sinai.

"I'll be working a normal day on Father's Day this year," he said.

"Nine and a half months is a long time to be away. When I get home, I'll be looking forward to spending some time with my wife Kirstin and my two boys Matthew and William.

"I'm also looking forward to catching up with my dad, Gordon, and the rest of the family."

LTCOL Graham has been both the Current Operations Officer and the Plans Officer during his deployment to Australia's main operating base in the Middle East.

"As the Plans Officer, I'm responsible for planning responses to actual or potential contingencies, events or activities which we anticipate out to a year ahead," he said.

"One of the best things about the job is the process of planning for an ADF response, including the physical reconnaissance of an area, as well as meeting and discussing a range of options with both ADF personnel and our coalition partners.

"It has allowed me to travel all over the Middle East, and work with some truly remarkable people."

Although he's been away from home for a long time, LTCOL Graham has been keeping in touch with his family with regular Skype calls, as well as writing letters and sending cards.

His role is important because it provides essential support to ADF personnel who are deployed throughout the region, a long way from home.

"I help to ensure the safety and welfare of all Australians deployed in the Middle East.

"My team also ensures those people get the support they need to do their jobs while deployed in the region." Although he originally joined the Army Reserve in 1981, LTCOL Graham enjoyed the experience so much that he signed up to the full-time army after five years.

"I set a goal of 20 years service, which I hit 12 years ago, so I'm doing pretty well.

"Over those 32 years, I've had the opportunity to travel the world, both on operations and for training, while also receiving excellent career and personal development training along the way.

"I always recommend the ADF to people I meet who are looking for an opportunity to expand their horizons and try something new."

LTCOL Graham also added a message to his family, who he will be missing this Father's Day.

"Looks like I've missed another Father's Day but I'm looking forward to catching up with you all when I return.

"I'm ready to relax for a while, and work on the new house and gardens at Googong."

Australian Defence Force personnel deployed to the Middle East region support and sustain ADF operations in the region, enable contingency operations and enhance regional relationships.

There are about 500 ADF personnel deployed on Operation ACCORDION throughout the region.

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