While most Australian 19 year olds are still trying to work out what they want to do with their lives, one Whitehorse local has set his sights on great things working in the scorching heat of a landlocked country finding its feet after 40 years of violence and oppression.
Bradley Mason is that local.
“I joined the Army to be part of something great,” Bradley said.
“In this country we are doing just that; providing a chance for the locals to have the kind of future that everyone deserves.”
The former Scotch College student joined the Australian Army straight out of school and is now deployed as part of the Australian whole-of-government operations in Uruzgan province, advising the Afghan National Army’s 4th Brigade, 205 Corps and supporting Transition in Afghanistan.
“I grew up reading about Australia’s military history and knew that the Army was something that I wanted to be part of,” Bradley said.
“I never thought I’d actually get the chance to deploy and be part of that proud history, following in the footsteps of other diggers since the expedition to the Sudan in the 1880s.
“I’m proud to be part of a team that is keeping the “fair go for all” attitude that Army has operated under through so many conflicts.”
Bradley’s role is to provide force protection to the members of the Security Force Assistance – Advisory Team, the Defence members working closely with the 4th Brigade’s headquarters, Combat Service Support and Garrison elements.
It’s a job that everyday has the Trooper working closely with the Afghan soldiers.
“When you work in the Afghan’s military camp as much as we do, you rapidly make a lot of friends,” Bradley said.
“The Afghan soldiers are very genuine guys and they confide their hopes and fears in you.
“They have families and see their service as an opportunity to protect those things hard earned that we at home take for granted, like education, health and national security.”
Since 2006, when Australia first arrived in Uruzgan province, access to education has risen with 205 schools opened across the province and over 70,000 boys and girls enrolled.
Six health facilities for the region have grown to 29, with another 322 health posts available, offering easy access to treatment and disease prevention through vaccination.
Most importantly the Afghan National Army has established itself as a highly capable security force, conducting fully independent operations across the region against an increasingly splintered insurgency.
Bradley looks forward to eventually getting home and catching up with his parents, Guy and Jo Mason.
“Mum and dad have been really supportive of my career choice,” Bradley said.
“Like all families with serving members, they get a bit worried, but they are very proud and really supportive.
“It’ll be good to get home, sit down and tell them all about what we were able achieve here.”