A few years ago all Sam Vickery had to worry about was waxing his board and getting down to Wamberal Beach to surf.
Now he's responsible for the safety about 9000 people working at Kandahar Airfield in Afghanistan.
Sam, an Army captain, is the force protection officer for NATO's assistance mission in the country's south.
His role includes assessing vulnerabilities at Kandahar and the conduct of random security sweeps.
He also facilitates the management of vetting to make sure people on base pose no threat and are meant to be there.
"We do pick up a few people," he said.
"Anybody on base that hasn't been vetted or anybody that doesn't have a purpose is removed immediately."
When NATO teams deploy away from Kandahar to advise Afghans across Southern Afghanistan, Sam makes sure everyone is protected.
"When I arrive, I'll conduct an assessment of the security force on the ground to enhance our force posture," he said.
"I also pass-on any threat reporting that can mitigate risk."
Sam also speaks to Afghan commanders about how best to maintain protection.
"It's been successful, especially with empowering their counter intelligence officers," he said.
"We also work with garrison commanders to enhance force protection for both the Afghan and Coalition Forces.
"We have a direct line of communication, so when they identify a threat they follow it up with our intelligence staff on base."
Sam graduated from St Edward's College in 2008, joined the Army and transferred to become an infantry officer two years later.
"I always wanted to join the Army," he said.
"As a boy that's all I wanted to be, then it became a natural progression after Year 12."
Sam's parents Jeff and Donna still live in Matcham where he grew up and were happy to see him go overseas, with some reservations.
"They know it's always been my dream to be able to do the job overseas," he said.
"They were very supportive, but I'd say they worry occasionally.
"Mum's a bit more worried, as mums are, but at the end of the day they both know this is the job that I wanted to do."
Sam is due home from his six-month long deployment in December and should be heading to the Central Coast soon after.
"I love the Coast, it's a low-tempo place where everyone knows everyone, it's very welcoming," he said.
"Wamberal is the best beach there, it's the closest to where I used to live and it gives you everything.
"Any day you can find its four-foot breakers to six-foot whitewash, plus it's never too crowded.
"But the one thing I'm looking forward to coming home the most is to see my 3 year old son Maximus again."
Sam is deployed to Afghanistan as part of the Australian Defence Force's Operation Highroad.
Operation Highroad is the Australian Defence Force's commitment to Afghanistan supporting the NATO-led train, advise and assist mission called Resolute Support which has replaced the previous NATO-led International Security Assistance Force mission.
Around 270 ADF members from the Royal Australian Navy, the Australian Army, the Royal Australian Air Force and Defence civilians are deployed in Afghanistan as part of Operation Highroad.