Australian Defence Force Academy graduate and Manilla resident, Susan Coyle never imagined she would one day end up in Afghanistan.
Susan, who is an Army colonel, is in command of more than 400 men and women of the Australian Defence Force who are serving in Afghanistan as part of Operation Slipper.
Susan said her posting to Afghanistan as the deputy commander of Joint Task Force 636 (JTF636) which is made up of Navy, Army and Air Force personnel was her career highlight.
"There is no greater privilege than commanding Australian troops regardless of the role, function or mission," she said.
"The people I have working for me in JTF636 are both motivated and very professional, from a broad and diverse range of backgrounds.
"It really is the people that make any organisation."
Susan said she is very busy but her thoughts sometimes turn to her family back in Manilla.
"My brothers, Geoffrey and Ron are still Manilla locals and I have fond memories of my time growing up there," she said.
"It was probably the smallest town I've ever lived in, only a couple thousand people," she said.
"But a very hard working community all very proud with a lot of large families there either farming or working in the town.
"Two of my brothers married local girls so we pretty much married the town when that happened which was good."
Susan said her ticket out of the sleepy little town as a scholarship from the Australian Defence Force Academy (ADFA), which was followed by a tenure at the Royal Military College-Duntroon (RMC-D).
"I originally joined the Army through the ADFA scholarship scheme which was offered during my final years at Oxley High in Tamworth," she said.
"I was in the army reserve in years 11 & 12 at 12th / 16th Hunter River Lancers.
"I always wanted to do something with my life, I didn't know where or what but the army had a calling so I'm glad I went."
After graduating from Duntroon military college she posted to the Royal Australian Corp of Signals.
"I had a sister in signals Corp, Alice, who was my role model," she said.
"I wanted to be just like her so I joined Signals."
With operations in Afghanistan set to transition to a new NATO-led mission, Resolute Support, in January 2015, Susan is proud to be part of Australia's changing focus in support of the new train, advise, assist role.
"It's a special time in history," she said.
"Transitioning from a mission that's being going on for over 13 years shows we're seeing progress here in Afghanistan."
"Things that used to be Coalition led are now Afghan led and Coalition supported so you can really see that progress."
The role of deputy commander will see Susan deployed for a full 12 months, but she is embracing the opportunity and looks forward to being home in 2015, when she will make a welcome return to Manilla to see her brothers.