Lieutenant Colonel Todd Everett is seeing Afghanistan from a very different perspective than most other Australian Defence Force personnel.
LTCOL Everett is deployed to Afghanistan as a Military Adviser for the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA), a role that sees him move through the Afghan countryside in order to complete the UN mission.
As part of Operation PALATE II, he is based in Kabul where he interacts with other Australian personnel and acts as a link between the International Security Assistance Force and the UN.
“I have seen a lot more of the Afghan countryside than I thought I would, travelling to various outposts and facilities to speak with various Afghan units,” he said.”
Operation PALATE II is the ADF contribution to the United Nations Assistance Mission to Afghanistan (UNAMA).
UNAMA is a political mission established in 2002 by the UN Security Council at the request of the Afghanistan Government to assist it and the people of Afghanistan in laying the foundations for sustainable peace and development in the country.
In March 2014 the Security Council unanimously adopted resolution 2145 (2014), renewing UNAMA’s mandate and set out the scope and range of activities it must undertake as Afghanistan continues its political and security transition.
Five Australian Defence Force Officers are serving within the UNAMA Military Adviser Unit, with Australian Brigadier Bill Date heading the mission as the Senior Military Adviser.
Based out of Kabul and Jalalabad, their duties include liaising with all military forces throughout Afghanistan.
“The first half of my deployment meant that I worked closely with the Afghan civilians who work in UNAMA. I have found them all to be very gracious, welcoming, very concerned for the safety of everyone and wanting real change to come to their country,” Lieutenant Colonel Everett said.
“I have visited a lot of areas in the north-east region including the provinces of Takhar, Badakhshan and Baghlan and at one stage travelled to as close as 10km of the Tajikistan border – it’s been an amazing experience.
“There’s a long list of places I never thought I would have visited such as Mazar-e-Sharif, the location of Headquarters Regional Command-North, Bamyan, Kandahar and Jalalabad.”
Deploying from Canberra, where he is posted to Headquarters Joint Operations Command, Lieutenant Colonel Everett will complete his deployment mid-year after an almost 13-month stint with the UN mission and will reunite with his wife Alison and children Gemma, 19, Elleanor, 15, and Joseph, 13.
“I can’t wait to get home, watch some rugby and spend time with my family – and not necessarily in that order!
“I miss my rugby but I’m already locked in for a Brumbies home game when I return and am also missing access to better news coverage.
“I plan on doing a whole lot of nothing when I get home to simply make up for the time I have spent away and take some of the burden off my beautiful wife.
“It’s easy for us on operations – we have a job to do and we know what we need to achieve – but for the families, they get up each morning look at the watch to see what time it is in the operational area. They don’t know what we might be facing or up to but they have to get stuck in to the home administration tasks that come with being Mrs Mum and Mr Dad.
“The families do an amazing job to support us when we are away and I plan to pull up my end of the bargain when I get home.”
Lieutenant Colonel Everett is one of about 400 Australian personnel who are deployed to Afghanistan. The Australian personnel under Operation Slipper are supporting the mission to train and advise the Afghan National Security Forces in both Kabul and Kandahar.