8/9RAR soldiers providing force protection for Australians deployed to Kabul
7 June 2016
Soldiers from 8/9RAR are providing essential security for Australian Defence Force personnel working inside and around Kabul.
Their role as 'Guardian Angels' sees the soldiers providing close personal protection to the many ADF mentors and advisors working with their Afghan counterparts.
The A Coy 8/9RAR Force Protection Element (FPE), deployed in January, after completing three months of mission specific training and armoured vehicle familiarisation.
On arrival in Kabul, the FPE was split into three sections, each tasked with providing physical protection to Australians deployed to different units around Hamid Karzai International Airport (HKIA) and Kabul.
Corporal (Cpl) Bradley Spaccavento is one of the FPE section commanders.
"Our role is to conduct protected red and green zone moves in and around Kabul in armoured four wheel drives," Cpl Spaccavento said.
"We work with the Kabul Garrison Command-Advisory Team (KGC-AT) six days a week, escorting them to work and providing 'Guardian Angel' protection while they conduct advisory work with their Afghan counterparts.
"When we are not working with KGC-AT we also are tasked to provide security to other ADF units in the area."
A typical work day has the 8/9RAR FPE clearing and securing the KGC-AT advisor's work place before allowing them into their building.
"Once the building has been cleared we stand up our command post where we coordinate and movements for the advisors," he said.
"During the day we accompany the advisors while they work alongside their Afghan counterparts."
Section 2IC Private (Pte) Chris Di Florio is the senior soldier in the section and has been in the Army for six years.
"I deployed to Afghanistan in 2012 with Mentoring Task Force 4 (MTF 4) but this time my role is very different, as I was outside the wire and not in an urban environment," Pte Di Florio said.
"I arrive after the building has been cleared and assist with the set up of the computer servers and the command post."
When the building is safe to work in Pte Di Florio has an important role to carry out during the rest of his work day.
"I'm the battle tracker," he said.
"I facilitate communication between the FPE soldiers and the command post, I also track everyone's location on a white board.
While the job is different to what both Cpl Spaccavento and Pte Di Florio have experienced on prevous deployments to Afghanistan, operating in Kabul is no less dangerous.
"The red zone moves we do are a bit more dangerous compared to working inside the HKIA area," Pte Di Florio said.
"We have to be alert for threats such as vehicle IEDs in cars and motorcycles and possible IEDs on or under the road."
So far on this deployment it's the leadership component Cpl Spaccavento said he has enjoyed the most.
"It can be challenging at times and there are occasions when I've thought, I or the section could have done something better," he said.
"It's a matter of staying on top of everything we do, fixing problems and moving on.
"This isn't a Mentoring mission like my 2IC and I have completed before. It's a different kind of operation, but it's very rewarding to be here."