Tim soldiering on in Kabul
IT'S the simple things in life that Ipswich-born and bred soldier Corporal Tim Kusters misses most while he's on duty in Afghanistan.
Cpl Kusters has been in war-torn Kabul since March, taking charge of a small transport team that looks after the movement of troops on small outlying bases in the nation's capital.
Despite leaving his family and girlfriend behind, the 26-year-old Karalee resident said he had no regrets about his involvement in the ongoing war.
A member of the army's 26 Transport Squadron 85 Troop at Amberley RAAF base, Cpl Kusters was called upon to serve in Afghanistan in February this year.
"I was pretty excited about it - this is my first trip and for me there's nothing better than being able to put your training to the test," he said.
The Land Cruiser Cpl Kusters drives around in is heavily armed, protecting him against what he describes as "a fair range" of risks in the Kabul area.
Although lucky enough to have stayed away from serious conflict so far, he said news of serious injury or death to his fellow Australian soldiers always hit close to home.
"You can see it in people's faces and it becomes a reality, but we always get on with the job," he said.
Far from talking up the dangers, the main thing that he said struck him about the war zone was the friendly attitudes of most of the locals.
While uncertainty remains over the question of just how long Australian troops will remain in Afghanistan, Cpl Kusters at least has some certainty of when his own involvement will end.
He will return to his family and his home for a hard-earned break in September.
"We're lucky to have some pretty good facilities here," Cpl Kusters said.
"We can send emails and call home - which we do pretty much every chance we get.
"Sometimes I just like to sit around and chat with the other blokes that I work with."
With most of the soldiers hailing from either Queensland or NSW, State of Origin night is always a big night in Afghanistan.
The soldiers have a recreation area with a TV and the troops will see the game live.
"I wouldn't say I'm homesick," Cpl Kusters said.
"If there's one thing I miss most about home though, it's sitting out on the back deck at home in Karalee and enjoying a cold rum."