A Scottish hero who dodged death facing the Taliban in Afghanistan has joined the Australian Army to hunt Islamic State terrorists.
Former British sapper Steve Driver is now a combat engineer with the Aussie armed forces teaching Philippines marines how to blast through doors and walls so they can seek and destroy Islamic extremists.
He served gruelling tours in Northern Ireland, Bosnia, Iraq and Afghanistan before taking a few years off from military life then finally finding a new home with the Australian Army.
He said: “When I rejoined the army, I was saying I felt as if I still had something to give. Maybe this is it. If I can help an ally keep themselves alive and defeat an enemy that I’ve been fighting for 15 years and is on our doorstep, that’s worthwhile.
“They will keep coming unless we do something about it.”
Sergeant Driver, originally from Paisley, joins an Australian Defence Force mission that has trained more than 7000 Philippines troops to beat back an Islamist insurgency in the country’s volatile south.
He and his fellow Australian troops are teaching explosive “breaching”, which lets forces keep the element of surprise as they move quickly through buildings.
It also helps them avoid booby-trap bombs rigged to doors and windows, or snipers positioned in buildings across the street ready to shoot soldiers trying to enter a building.
The Australian government moved quickly to offer support last year after about 1000 Islamist militants united under the IS banner and seized the southern Muslim city of Marawi.
This sparked a five-month siege and cost the lives of at least 165 soldiers and marines as well as dozens of civilians.
Australia wants to stop an IS-backed group gaining a foothold in the area. The ADF’s chief of joint operations, Air Marshal Mel Hupfeld, describes the threat as a “clear and present danger” given the movement of foreign fighters back to south-east Asia.
He said: “The Philippines is one very dramatic example of that.
“The fact that IS in the Philippines had very strong links back into Syria and Iraq is one of the reasons why our national interest really starts to intersect with that of the Philippines.”