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Nicholas Wilson - Tasmania

For career officer Lieutenant Colonel Nicholas (LTCOL) Wilson, putting on his uniform everyday is a privilege, whether at home in Tasmania or in Kabul working alongside Afghanistan's military leaders.

LTCOL Wilson is deployed as the Chief of Staff (COS) Advisor in the Kabul General Garrison Command Advisor Team (KGGC-AT) on Operation Highroad – Australia's contribution to the NATO-led Resolute Support Mission in Afghanistan.

"Our team of Australian officers advises the only joint operational three-star headquarters in Afghanistan, responsible for the security of Kabul and its province," LTCOL Wilson said.

KGGC is responsible for more than 25,000 troops comprising Afghanistan's three pillars: the Afghan National Army, Afghan National Police and Defence Intelligence Directorate.

Established in 2015, the KGGC has Australian mentors paired with principal operations staff to help facilitate a path to autonomy through daily mentoring.

With more than 22 years of service behind him, LTCOL Wilson brings a great deal of experience to the role, but more importantly, he brings passion.

Since childhood, young Nicholas dreamt of becoming an officer: proud of his family's history of service in the World Wars, he joined the cadets as soon as he could.

In 1995 he finished year 12 and immediately entered service and was awarded a scholarship at the Australian Defence Force Academy.

After 20 years of service as an Artillery officer, LTCOL Wilson decided "to give civilian life a go", working with the Tasmania Fire Service and the State Emergency Service as the Acting State Director.

Despite enjoying his civilian role, he missed the unique aspects of service life and returned to full-time Army in February 2017.

"There really is no comparison – being a soldier in the Army as part of the ADF is a magnificent experience that provides challenges, rewards and life lessons like no other," he said.

LTCOL Wilson's passion for his job is palpable, an essential characteristic for any COS adviser.

"Being a small part of our Nation's commitment to Afghanistan makes me extremely proud,"

"But the best part of my job? Serving beside and with magnificent Australians from every walk of life, being counted amongst them will always make me feel special."

While LTCOL Wilson is able to pass on his passionate work-ethic to both his Australian and Afghan colleagues, he is also able to pass on experience from previous deployments.

In 2012/13, LTCOL Wilson deployed to Afghanistan as the Commanding Officer of the Artillery Training Team at the Afghan school of Artillery, also in Kabul.

Back then, Afghanistan was a vastly different place with disjointed security forces that relied heavily on coalition support at the "grass-roots level".

"Since my last tour, I have seen progress, which is encouraging," LTCOL Wilson said.

"I've only been here two months, but already we have had several successes, seeing the Afghans grow and take ownership of their own security is success criteria in itself."

With his next job lined up as the Commanding Officer to the School of Artillery in Puckapunyal, LTCOL Wilson will be heading home a few months early.

Looking forward to his new posting, the Tasmanian officer will always call Hobart home.

"I love my home state of Tasmania, which has a very strong identity with the ADF," he said.

"It was wonderful to live and work there for my hiatus out of Army, and I have left my family in Hobart because it is quite simply one of the best places to raise a family."