Soldiers from Cabarlah deployed to Iraq
LEIUTENANT Tristan Ross is one of seven soldiers who have transitioned from training at Cabarlah's Borneo Barracks to deployment in Iraq under Taskforce Taji.
Lt Ross said it was difficult to leave behind his young family, with his son Benedict born at Toowoomba Hospital just six days before he left for overseas.
He works with a team to provide communication support from within a military complex about 20km northwest of Baghdad, where they have been stationed since November.
"You're in a war zone, doing dangerous work in a dangerous part of the world, so there's a lot of preparation needed for us, but also preparing the family for what is happening," he said.
"We're here to help up-skill and get the Iraqi army back on its feet. We have good support and all of us here are going through the same kind of thing."
Lt Ross moved from Sydney to Toowoomba to train at Cabarlah and said there was extensive preparation both physically and mentally before leaving.
"The mission is not the kind of sexy stuff you see in the movies," Lt Ross said.
Lance Corporal Cameron Harding was 38 when he joined up, saying it was something he'd always wanted to do as a child but hadn't found the time.
"It's a shock to the system when you first join up, but the good thing is it's not a job sitting at a desk," he said.
He said the training process was challenging and he echoed the feelings of distance while being away from his family and the community.
"Every soldier joins up knowing there's a deployment on the horizon. It's what you train for.
"This is an opportunity to go and do your job in an operational way."
Moving from Albury/Wodonga, he said that region was similar in many ways to Toowoomba.
Both men said the months spent building up a camaraderie with their small team was vital for support.
Taskforce Taji is is a combined Australian and New Zealand mission that is expected to go for two years.
About 300 Australian Defence Force personnel are involved.