Behind the wheel at East Timor
DRIVING around East Timor in Mack trucks is now the best part of Mackay soldier Lee Steindl's day.
Lee, 26, is now a private in the Army, and has specialised as a transport driver.
These days he's part of the International Stabilisation Force (ISF) and he's driving sustainment runs to its bases outside Dili and even instructing on Army driver courses being conducted in the country.
“After school I was originally a chef, but I got a bit tired of that,” he said.
“I had always wanted to join the Army, and had been in Cadets, so eventually I made the change.
“It's been the best thing I ever did. Since I've been in East Timor, I've been given more responsibility and I have really had to get things like my job and personal bearing down pat.”
Pte Steindl has particularly enjoyed being able to do the job he trained for in an operational situation.
“It's great to be able to do the actual job,” he said.
“The reasons why we have things like convoy orders have been reinforced. There is a chance that something could happen that we need to manage, like a breakdown, and just being able to do what we're supposed to do properly - it has been a highlight.”
The International Stabilisation Force is assisting the East Timorese and UN maintain stability and security in the country.
Pte Steindl says he's also developed personally while he has been away.
“There is no point whinging about small things when people have so little here, so now I have more respect for what I have at home,” he said.
“I've also learned how to do my job better as second-in-command of my section and as a basic driver.
“I'm more confident, particularly with the Mack trucks, because I've had to drive them in terrain that we don't have in Australia,” he said.
Pte Steindl is the first member of his family to join the Australian Defence Force, and he's keen to catch up with his Mackay-based family when he returns to Australia.
“I'm looking forward to catching up with my mates, my family, social life in general, and having a Bundy Rum, of course,” he said.
Pte Steindl is one 650 Australian Defence Force personnel now serving in East Timor with Operation Astute.
The operation is part of the Australian Government's response to a request from the Government of East Timor to assist in bringing stability, security and confidence to the East Timorese.