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Geoff Traill - Geelong

GEELONG'S Geoff Traill loves his job and is achieving a life's dream while supporting defence personnel as Chaplain to the Australian Forces in Afghanistan.

Major Traill from Geelong, Victoria deployed to Operation SLIPPER as part of Force Support Unit-9 in February and arrived during a time of snow and heavy sleet at Camp Baker on Kandahar Air Field.

Afghanistan marks the first operational deployment for the Anglican minister who previously served for six years in the Army Reserve before transferring to the Australian Regular Army in 2011.

"There are about 400 Australian personnel deployed to Kabul and Kandahar in a range of roles in our mission to train and advise the Afghan National Security Forces," he said.

"My role is to provide pastoral care, advice and support as required to Australian personnel at Kandahar and Kabul irrespective of Service or Unit.

"I conduct Chapel services, provide advice to command on religious, spiritual, moral, ethical and cultural issues; and also work with the other Coalition chaplains.

"When you are overseas, there are new faces and new names and so many people to get to know in order to provide support as an Army Chaplain. I was once told a few years ago, 'Padre it's your job to keep people happy'."

The former Yarra Valley Church of England Boys Grammar and Mitcham High School student said the conditions had changed dramatically since first arriving. 

"Arriving in Kandahar in the midst of sleeting snow and rain was an eye opener. To be honest it was like being on a film set for Mad Max Beyond The Thunder Dome.

"It was difficult to make out any roads, because they were covered in mud and the Coalition vehicles are a strange mixture of oddly shaped up-armoured and patterned designs.

"Most of the buildings are behind three-metre concrete blast walls and there are shipping containers stacked high everywhere.

The father of two, Kathryn (30), Jonathan (28) and husband of Heather says the Geelong community is very close to his heart after spending 20 years working and raising his family in the region.

"The great thing about Geelong is being able to walk down the street and recognise people who have been part of your life. That's what makes it home - beinga part of the community."

"As a result I feel that I have a lot of support from Geelong, especially from the Anglican Churches with my friend Archdeacon Neil Hicks from St Paul’s Geelong.

"People are genuinely interested in knowing what we are doing in Afghanistan and how they can support Australian personnel here.

"People from Geelong and Ballarat, along with Anglicare Victoria, have donated biscuits and chocolates to give out to the troops.

"A real moral boost when small luxuries are hard to come by. It feels like I’m an extension of their love and care and our Australian troops really appreciate the support."

Following the completion of Australia’s mission in Afghanistan’s Uruzgan province last year, Australia’s efforts have shifted to a nationally-orientated mission throughout 2014, providing training and advisory support to the Afghan National Security Forces.

Outside of Afghanistan approximately 800 personnel are deployed within the broader Middle East Area of Operations for support roles including the maritime environment.