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Thomas Reid - Brisbane

Albury-Wodonga soldier proud to be protecting his mates in Iraq.

As a kid, Albury-Wodonga’s Private Thomas Reid always pictured himself becoming a soldier. The 22-year-old is now living his dream in the Army and serving on his first six-month deployment in Iraq.

Private Reid is part of the Force Protection Element within Task Group Taji-7, which is in Iraq to train Iraqi Security Forces at the Taji Military Complex.

“I make sure that both coalition forces and Iraqi trainees are safe while they are giving and receiving training,” Private Reid said.

“You have to remain vigilant at all times and switched on, but it’s pretty good – you get good exposure to the local soldiers, and I’m constantly learning new phrases in Arabic to build a good rapport with them.”

A highlight for Private Reid was being part of a mobile training team that travelled to the Besmayah Range Complex south-east of Baghdad to deliver heavy weapons training.

Private Reid was part of a Force Protection team that supported Australian Army trainers who coached Iraqi soldiers on the 120mm mortar, Rocket-propelled grenade and .50 calibre heavy machine gun weapon systems.

“It’s good to get out and see a bit more of Iraq while we’re here, and to be exposed to different weapons systems.

“These experiences can only make me better at my job,” he said.

Back in Australia, Private Reid is a Rifleman of the 6th Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment based in Brisbane.

After nearly five years in the Army, he was keen to put his hard work into practice on a deployment overseas and help make a difference.

“It’s always good to get out of the exercise cycle and into the job itself to put all my training to use in a different country,” he said.

“I feel proud serving my country and helping out the Iraqis.

“I feel like Iraqis defeating Daesh in their own country is awesome, without the influence of terrorism, it will make Iraq a better place.”

When not providing force protection, Private Reid said he was working on his own personal goals.

“Working on personal development, fitness and hanging out with mates,” he said.

Private Reid is part of the 400-strong Australian and New Zealand contingent tasked with training Iraqi Security Forces to help ensure they are well postured to secure and stabilise areas cleared of Daesh.

Task Group Taji is part of Operation Okra – the Australian Defence Force's contribution to the US-led Global Coalition to combat the Daesh terrorist threat in Iraq and Syria.

Interview opportunity: Interviews with PTE Thomas Reid can be arranged by contacting Media Ops on (02) 6127 1999 or email Defence Media.