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Seventeen years on, Australia still plays a vital role in Afghanistan

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Seventeen years on, Australia still plays a vital role in Afghanistan
 It’s 17 years since Australian forces entered Afghanistan as part of the coalition. They arrived with weapons drawn, and fought bravely on the frontline.
But what many Australians don’t realize is that today, 300 Australian servicemen and women remain in Afghanistan.
They’re located in military bases across the country. And each has a vital and important role to play in the fight for peace and stability.
Their jobs are as wide and varied as you find in civilian life. From mechanics to engineers. IT experts, pilots, and public relations. The list goes on.
All of these jobs fall under NATO’s Resolute Support Mission, known as Operation High ground. To train, advise and assist the Afghan people to help themselves.
The plan sounds simple enough, but to say it is plagued by complications is an understatement.
Across Afghanistan, education levels are low. Food is scarce. Healthcare is for the fortunate few. And much of the population lives in poverty.
Making matters worse, the institutions, which are usually relied upon to fix such social problems, are either fledgling or non-existent. Afghanistan has so far to go. 
And this is exactly where Australia steps in. Our teams are training soldiers to lead their own platoons. In the same way our future leaders are trained at the Australian Defense Force Academy. The idea is that our best and brightest from the Royal Australian Navy, the Australian Army, the Royal Australian Air Force will share their knowledge and give Afghanistan a fighting chance to contain the threat of international terrorism.
The bond between Australian and Afghan forces is clear. Grown men greet each other with open arms and big smiles. Tea is taken together at every opportunity. And despite an obvious language barrier, jokes are shared, and the sound of laughter can be heard in the corridors of power. As one soldier told me, “We have bled together, and now we will rebuilt together too.” While there remains so much suffering and sadness in Afghanistan, there is also great hope. And that hope comes in the form of 300 Aussies, donned in camouflage clothing, prepared to do whatever they can to make the world a better place.
Monitoring Desk