Queensland troops head south to join fire fight
SOLDIERS who've recently returned from Iraq and Afghanistan have left Brisbane to help bushfire-ravaged communities in NSW and Victoria.
Two battle groups from the army's 7th Combat Brigade left Brisbane's Gallipoli Barracks early on Tuesday, ready to man bulldozers and chainsaws to help devastated communities back on their feet.
Brigade Commander Andrew Hocking says there's no end date for the mission, and 400 of his soldiers will stay for as long as they're needed.
"Many of the soldiers that are heading down today have served recently in Iraq and Afghanistan, many of them returning over the last two or three months," he told media.
"Many of them have also been involved over the last three months in supporting the bushfire efforts up here in Queensland."
Brigadier Hocking said his soldiers had great respect for the extremely difficult task emergency services have faced in southern states.
"It's really natural that these soldiers are eager to help. Helping mates is a deep Australian quality and I think that's really coming to bear today."
The 400 soldiers have expertise in engineering and logistics, but will also take heavy machinery to help clear blackened landscapes.
"It will be a lot of destruction ... a lot of people and communities in stress. We will see great Australians doing great work to help each other, and we will join them."