James spills the milk on military life in Iraq
"THE thing I miss the most is full-cream milk. We only have long-life here."
For 24-year-old Australian Army signaller James Treasure, the simple things in life which are taken for granted have become wishful thinking in the reality of living in Iraq.
Sig Treasure, who is originally from Bundaberg, is deployed in the war-torn country as part of Task Group Taji (TG Taji), a combined Australian-New Zealand military training force located at the Taji Military Complex northwest of Baghdad.
TG Taji has been deployed to Iraq to support an international effort to train and build the capacity of the regular Iraqi Security Forces (ISF).
The combined task group consists of about 300 Australian Defence Force (ADF) personnel drawn largely from the Australian Army's 7th Brigade, alongside 105 New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF) personnel.
"I am an information systems technician, which means I am in charge of assisting in supporting headquarters with any systematic problems that may arise," Sig Treasure told NewsMail via a phone conference.
It is a crucial role in that I have to make sure the systems work so everything runs smoothly.
Now into its 11th month of operations, Australia and New Zealand have trained 4455 regular Iraqi Army personnel as part of the Building Partner Capacity mission.
For Sig Treasure, his day starts at the crack of dawn and ends after a long shift.
"The day starts at about 5am when I head to the gym to do some personal training with the troops and then on to an eight- to 12-hour shift," he said.
Sig Treasure has been with the Australian Army for five years now and said being part of army life was something he had always dreamed of. "It is exciting. Probably one of the best parts is loading all the gear up and then flying into a completely new and different country - that is an amazing feeling. That's when things start to feel very real.
"There are also hard parts about this job, like not having the freedom to do whatever I want to. The normality of everyday life." "My relatives were involved in past wars so I have always had a sense of duty and pride for my country. It is something I have always wanted to be part of."
TG Taji became fully operational in May 2015 and is planned to continue for two years. Its progress will be reviewed on a regular basis.
Sig Treasure said he hoped to return home in the middle of the year.