Diggers bunker down for Christmas

For one Australian soldier bunkered down in a forward position in Afghanistan, now in the depths of winter, this Christmas promises a special gift.

He's waiting for news from home about the birth of his child, due on Christmas Day.

Like all the 1500 Australians serving in the war-torn country, the digger, who cannot be named due to operational reasons, will at least get to speak to his loved ones.

Many of them will get to see their families and those close to them over the internet via a webcam.

Lieutenant Colonel Andrew Hocking, commanding officer of the Mentoring and Reconstruction Taskforce, spoke to the expectant father while on patrol.

"I thought that in itself is just such a clear demonstration of the commitment, not only of the soldiers but of the support and commitment of the families," he said from the Australian base at Tarin Kowt.

"That's not the only story like that."

"It's special to me to know that the guys are out here doing their business and sacrificing some pretty important life moments in the interest of their country."

Being able to talk to loved ones back in Australia meant a lot to the soldiers, Lt Col Hocking said.

"It's a long way from home at Christmas," he said.

"The guys have access to internet in most of the patrol bases, we've worked pretty hard to achieve that. They've all got access at least to phones.

"It's amazing what a difference it makes just to be able to see your wife, to see your kids, and for them to see you. That makes a really big difference."

Lt Col Hocking said it was "mixed emotions" for many of the soldiers at the moment.

"The guys are missing their families which you always do over Christmas," he said.

All the soldiers, whether they are in Tarin Kowt, or in forward positions, will all be treated to a Christmas feast.

And in keeping with tradition, the officers will serve the soldiers their Christmas Day lunch.

While the heat of the desert has subsided, with temperatures now getting down to about minus five degrees during the night, there'll still be the odd game of cricket, and a few surprises for the troops.

"I've got a few things up my sleeve but I've said to myself that I'm not going to declare them until Christmas Day," Lt Col Hocking said.

At times like Christmas, though, thoughts always turn to home.

"I'd like to take the opportunity to say to all the wives, the fathers, the mothers, brothers, sisters, sons, daughters of people who are deployed out here, we are all thinking of you today and particularly on Christmas Day," Lt Col Hocking said.

"We know you are thinking of us and we'll be home soon and we look forward to the reunion."