The sight of the sea washing the sandy beaches of Cronulla are a literally a distant memory for Army Captain Gabrielle Taylor, who is currently serving in Afghanistan on Operation Highroad.
The 27-year-old Military Police officer recently deployed to the land-locked country as a mentor for the Afghan National Army officers, where a British-led team assist at the Afghan National Army Officer Academy (ANAOA) near Kabul, Afghanistan.
Captain Taylor said she was too young to join the New South Wales Police Force in 2008, however she was offered a position at the Australian Defence Force Academy to study a Bachelor of Business.
She went on to Graduate from the Royal Military College – Duntroon and train as a Military Police officer, which prepared her for her role as a mentor in Afghanistan.
"As one of the team of mentors, we're part of some significant changes for the Afghan National Army," she said.
"One of the best parts of the job is contributing to the training of future Afghan officers and seeing them learn and grow over the course of their studies."
As one of the coalition female mentors at ANAOA, Captain Taylor ensures the women who commission into the Afghan National Army (ANA) are integrated with and receive the same training as their male counterparts.
"I think one of the important parts of my role is to act as a role model for the officers I mentor and, more importantly, the officer cadets they teach," she said.
"Working at ANAOA is also a great opportunity for the Australian mentors to represent the officer and senior non-commissioned officer training we receive to our coalition partners.
"We're all a part of ensuring the ANA continues to be supported through its development into a first-rate military force."
This is Captain Taylor's second operational deployment, having deployed on Operation ASLAN, Australia's support to the United Nations Mission in South Sudan, last year.
"Defence has offered me great opportunities to travel the world and experience different cultures, through operational deployments and exercises," she said.
"Along the way, I've made some great friends and completed a Masters in Project Management."
On her return to Australian in 2018, Captain Taylor is looking forward to taking a well-earned holiday and getting back into playing Rugby.
"I'm due to move on from my current posting in Darwin at the end of 2018, so I'm looking forward to making the most of the top end before I leave," she said.
"I'm also keen on getting back to the beach!"
About 270 ADF personnel are deployed in Kabul, Bagram and Kandahar regions as part of Operation Highroad, Australia's support to the NATO-led Resolute Support mission.