Major General John Cantwell AO, DSC joined the Australian Army as a private in 1974. He served in the first Gulf War with the Coalition forces between 1990 and 1991, and in the second Gulf War in 2006 and 2007, where he was promoted to Deputy Chief of Army. In 2010 he served a twelve-month tour as the commander of Australian forces in Afghanistan. He was awarded a Distinguished Service Cross in the 2012 Australia Day Honours List. Cantwell retired from the Army in 2012 after 38 years of service. Co-writer Greg Bearup has been a feature writer at the Good Weekend for the past ten years and has twice been awarded a Walkley Award for his writing. In 2004/5 he took leave from his job and lived in Pakistan and filed for various newspapers including the Guardian. He also worked for the UN on various elections and lived in Syria, for the vote of Iraqi refugees, and Bamyan, in the remote mountains of Central Afghanistan.