Growing up years apart, two Granite Belt locals are now serving together on operations in Afghanistan. 

Lieutenant Colonel Lachlan Searle, 46, of Ballandean, and Private James Dachs, 22, of Pozieres, are both from Stanthorpe, Queensland. 

Lieutenant Colonel Searle works as an adviser and mentor to the senior leadership of the Afghan National Army Officer Academy (ANAOA) in Kabul, Afghanistan.

Proud to be helping develop and train the Afghan Instructors, Lieutenant Colonel Searle said contributing to institutional capacity-building would allow the Afghans to maintain a high-quality academy into the future. 

“The Afghans are very interested in learning from Australian and other coalition mentors,”  Lieutenant Colonel Searle said.

“They are highly committed, very resilient and aspire to deliver a stable and secure Afghanistan.”

Advisers at the academy have been drawn from Denmark, Great Britain, New Zealand and Australia. 

Private Dachs is part of Force Protection Element 13 (FPE-13), supporting Australian and coalition advisers.

Private Dachs’ team is one of those assigned with a range of security tasks, including base security, quick reaction forces and adviser force protection.

“I fulfil two roles here, one as a crew commander for the Bushmaster Protected Mobility Vehicle, and as a guardian angel, providing close protection for mentors during their daily tasks,” Private Dachs said.

“It has been very rewarding to see all the skills I’ve learnt in Australia being utilised on operations here in Afghanistan.”

Private Dachs is a member of the Darwin-based 5th Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment, which makes up FPE-13.

The best thing about the job is making life-long mates with everyone in the platoon,” he said.

“Together we ensure that the adviser team have the security they need to do their job of developing the officer academy.”