Navy officer balancing the books in Kabul

Published on CPL Dan Pinhorn (author and photographer)

Location(s): Kabul, Afghanistan

Topic(s): Operation HIGHROAD

Task Group Afghanistan (TGAFG) Finance Advisor, Royal Australian Navy Lieutenant Katrina Burkett (left) and TGAFG Finance Officer, Australian Army soldier Warrant Officer Class 2 Brian Donnelly prior to going on a task in Afghanistan. (photo: CPL Dan Pinhorn)
Task Group Afghanistan (TGAFG) Finance Advisor, Royal Australian Navy Lieutenant Katrina Burkett (left) and TGAFG Finance Officer, Australian Army soldier Warrant Officer Class 2 Brian Donnelly prior to going on a task in Afghanistan.

Royal Australian Navy officer Lieutenant Katrina Burkett swapped the ocean for a view of mountains in Afghanistan during a recent deployment.

Hailing from Robinvale, Victoria, Lieutenant Burkett developed a taste for travel from a young age. Yearning for more adventure and a desire to serve, she joined the Navy after graduating from the Australian National University.

“As a Maritime Logistics Officer, life in the Navy includes lots of travel and living out of a suitcase for months on end, but I love the variety of work locations,” Lieutenant Burkett said.

She was one of about 300 Australians deployed in Afghanistan as part of Operation HIGHROAD, Australia's ongoing contribution to the NATO-led Resolute Support Mission to train, advise and assist the Afghan National Defense and Security Forces. 

“Being on deployment was great because I made new friends and learnt about cultures from many different countries,” Lieutenant Burkett said. 

Task Group Afghanistan (TGAFG) Finance Advisor, Royal Australian Navy Lieutenant Katrina Burkett (left) and TGAFG Finance Officer, Australian Army soldier Warrant Officer Class 2 Brian Donnelly review incoming invoices during their morning brief.

Task Group Afghanistan (TGAFG) Finance Advisor, Royal Australian Navy Lieutenant Katrina Burkett (left) and TGAFG Finance Officer, Australian Army soldier Warrant Officer Class 2 Brian Donnelly review incoming invoices during their morning brief.

Embedded in the Australian headquarters in Kabul as a financial adviser, her responsibilities were vastly different from tasks she normally did for Navy.

“It was a steep learning curve, but understanding new financial systems, policies and procedures will help me during my new posting to HMAS Toowoomba,” Lieutenant Burkett said.

“Defence has given me plenty of opportunities to do things and given me skills that I wouldn’t have found anywhere else. And I can’t wait for my next chance to experience something out of the ordinary.”