ON TOUR: Gladstone resident and Australian Army officer Major Ed Dahlheimer (left) with fellow Gladstone resident,  Private Christopher Lockyer, at the coalition flags in Kabul, Afghanistan.
ON TOUR: Gladstone resident and Australian Army officer Major Ed Dahlheimer (left) with fellow Gladstone resident, Private Christopher Lockyer, at the coalition flags in Kabul, Afghanistan. POIS Andrew Dakin

Service in Afghanistan something Major will never forget

HE SPENT nearly 10 months away from his fiancee, job and home town, but Major Ed Dahlheimer's first tour of Afghanistan was an experience he'll never forget.

Maj Dahlheimer was part of the Kabul Garrison Command (Advisor Team 5) who left Australia in late October and returned home earlier this month.

"This was my first operational deployment. I nominated for a different operation and then was selected to deploy to Afghanistan as part of the advisor team," he said.

"My team was the Kabul Garrison Command Advisor Team 5 - the fifth rotation of Australians to go through.

"The KGC is a joint headquarters so it is a way to bring the three main pillars of security together - the Army, police and NDS (National Directorate of Security) - they all have their own ministry who look after them.

"The idea behind the KGC is to bring those three pillars into one unified organisation that could provide security for Kabul and the provinces around it.

"We were there as advisors to increase their capability to function as the joint headquarters."

Maj Dahlheimer transferred out of the Army Reserve and into the Army prior to his tour.

 

REUNION: There's a saying that no matter where you travel in the world you will meet someone from Gladstone. However, it was still a surprise to Gladstone locals Major Ed Dahlheimer and Private Christopher Lockyer when they met each other in Kabul late last year.
REUNION: There's a saying that no matter where you travel in the world you will meet someone from Gladstone. However, it was still a surprise to Gladstone locals Major Ed Dahlheimer and Private Christopher Lockyer when they met each other in Kabul late last year. POIS Andrew Dakin

Maj Dahlheimer, 50, lives at Beecher and is based at Calliope for his regular job with Gladstone Regional Council.

He's been a member of the Army Reserves since 1988 and had previously served with a Central Queensland contingent to Malaysia in 2000.

Maj Dahlheimer said there was nerves before he left Gladstone on October 23, but knew the conditions he was entering weren't as bad as previous years.

"On the day I left I was thinking have I done the right thing and I kept comforting (fiancee) Loren that it's a lot safer than it was prior to 2015 and our job description was a bit different," he said.

"Australia's role is a lot different now as we are only there to train, advise and assist so we weren't involved in any kinetic activities."

He said he saw a positive change during his time there.

"We notice a large improvement and they are very keen to learn. The Afghans are super friendly and very courteous," he said.

He said it was pleasing locals were able to put their training into practice during a peace conference held in April.

"There was one big security operation we assisted them planning. They were bringing in people from all over the country to sit at the Loya jirga," Maj Dahlheimer said.

Loya jirga is known in Afghanistan as a grand assembly used to resolve political conflicts or other problems.

 

Major Ed Dahlheimer prior to conducting a reconnaissance flight over the Loya jirga in Kabul, Afghanistan.
Major Ed Dahlheimer prior to conducting a reconnaissance flight over the Loya jirga in Kabul, Afghanistan. Contributed

"They brought thousands of people in to try and plan the way forward for peace in Afghanistan," he said.

"Kabul Garrison Command was responsible for all of the security including getting them from the airport to their accommodation and to the Loya jirga.

"That all went off well and the Afghans are very keen to listen and you could see they were taking on board what we were telling them and during the whole operation there wasn't one casualty.

"There were several insurgents caught before they could do stuff but it was a great success for (the Afghans) and that indicated to us that they were quite capable of planning their own operations.

"We started backing off with how much hands-on stuff we had with them... The idea of the different teams is to reinforce what the previous team had done.

"The team that is there now picked up where we left off."



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