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Andrew Leong - Dandenong

It's hard to draw a thread between running a promotional products business and advising a foreign military Colonel but Army Reservist Andrew Leong has found the transition pretty easy.

Major (MAJ) Leong, who runs EmbroidMe in Dandenong, is currently deployed on Operation HIGHROAD as part of the Kabul Garrison Command Advisor Team 3 (KGC-AT3) in Afghanistan.

Although he has served more than 29 years with the Army Reserve, MAJ Leong said he had not considered joining the reserves when he finished high school.

"I'd never really considered the Army as a calling, but after talking to some friends about the reserves during my final year of high school, I thought about it for a bit and decided it would be for me," he said.

"In my current role with KGC-AT3, I train, advise and assist three Afghan National Army officers in information activities and public affairs duties at the KGC.

"Overall, my team's role is to facilitate the path to autonomy for an Afghan headquarters to take responsibility for security of the capital, Kabul.

"This is really important, because a safe and prosperous capital will lead the way for a safe and prosperous country."

Although he conducted an exchange posting with the Royal Brunei Special Combat Squadron while posted to the 1st Commando Regiment, this is MAJ Leong's first operational deployment.

Compared to his exchange in Brunei, he said this current deployment to Afghanistan "was much more rewarding".

"I've been working here for just over two months, and I can already see the changes my Afghan mentee's have made in the information activity area," MAJ Leong said.

"Among other successes, watching the KGC personnel grow and take ownership of their own security is rewarding in itself.

"The role is definitely challenging. I see myself first and foremost as an Australian soldier, but I'm also proud to be assisting the Afghan people to rebuild their country into a safe and prosperous nation."

Without the experience he gained through his career with the Army Reserve, MAJ Leong said he would never have had the confidence to start his own business.

"There really is no comparison to being a soldier. It's a magnificent experience which provides challenges, rewards and life lessons like no other career," he said.

"The lifestyle can be demanding at times but the skills and experience the Army has given me let me start up and run my own successful business."

When he finishes his deployment in early 2018, MAJ Leong returns home to his wife, Stefanie, and children, Matthew and Mark.

"Stefanie sacrificed a year of her career by staying at home to watch our boys, and our business, in my absence," he said.

"Her support, as well as our boys and other family, allowed me the opportunity to go on this deployment."

ADF personnel deployed on Operation HIGHROAD are working as part of the international community to provide long-term support to the Government of Afghanistan.

About 270 ADF personnel are deployed in Kabul and Kandahar as part of Operation HIGHROAD, Australia's contribution to the NATO led Resolute Support mission.