Pride in the job and the challenge of helping a country move towards a better future are the drivers behind Private Levi Mooney, a 21 year old Caloundra boy, currently deployed to Uruzgan province in Afghanistan.
“I don’t know too many jobs that offer you the chance to have direct input into the rebuilding of a country,” Levi said.
The Kawana Waters State College graduate is currently serving in Afghanistan with the 2 CAV REGT Task Force, supporting the advisory mission with the Afghan National Army’s 4th Brigade, 205 Hero Corps and the process of transition in Afghanistan.
Levi, who has never deployed before, believes Australia’s investment in the country has paid dividends.
“The Afghans have learnt an enormous amount about security and it shows in their operations,” Levi said.
“Two rotations ago we were on security patrols shoulder to shoulder with the Afghans.
“Now they are planning and doing their own operations and consistently hitting the insurgents hard.”
In Afghanistan for the last two months, Levi says that his job providing force protection to the Australian advisors known as the Security Force Assistance – Advisory Team, has put him in an enviable position to meet a lot of Afghan soldiers.
“These guys are great,” Levi said.
“They’re sometimes a bit shy at first, but you quickly fall into that universal language that soldiers all speak; uniforms, weapons, honour and family.
“You also develop enormous respect for their commitment; this isn’t about a job, it’s about the future they want.”
The soldier, whose previous job was working for the Big Screen Cinema in Caloundra, still finds it remarkable to now be part of the history of a country known as the crossroads of the ancient world.
“If you had asked me a few years ago if I would have found myself here today doing this, I’d have probably shaken my head.”
“Part of our pre deployment training involves the culture and history of the country, it provides you with a greater understanding of the environment and the complexities that make up Afghanistan,” Levi said.
“From that you appreciate what we, not only as Australians but as an international force, have achieved in this country.”
Since the start of the Australian mission in Afghanistan, six health facilities across Uruzgan province have now expanded to 29, with another 322 health posts established.
The average lifespan has increased from 46 to 49 percent, infant mortality rates have halved and inoculation against serious diseases has increased from 41 to 66 percent.
School enrolments have risen 98 percent from 19 percent in 2006, and 27 percent of the provincial population have access the clean water; a significant increase from the 8 percent seven years ago.
“It’s an outcome that makes you proud,” Levi said.
Levi looks forward to eventually getting back home to spend time with his partner Jessica and family, enjoying the beach and relaxing with a few mates.
“For all the great things we’ve been doing, I do miss the ocean and having a surf and sitting around a bonfire at Wurtulla beach with my mates,” Levi said.
“The rolling landscape is no real substitute for rolling waves.”