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A whole new philosophy


Produced by Contact Publishing, PO Box 3091, Minnamurra, NSW 2533


Compiled from the 2017 archives of CONTACT Air Land & Sea e-magazine





CONTACT Air Land & Sea – 2017 Yearbook


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6 Big Pictures 10 Task Group Taji


Training Iraqi Army

18 Afghanistan

Was it worth it?



28 Talisman Sabre The biggest ever

36 1st Division 46 2RAR

What’s in a name?

52 1RAR

The Big Blue One

60 Aussie SF in Africa 64 RAAC ROBC 68 Red Flag 70 Australia’s F-35A 82 Inner Sanctum The mind of a sniper

90 Army shooter A new philosophy

98 Cadet Corner Find, like, share on



Photo by Bradley Richardson



An F/A-18F Super Hornet from No. 1 Squadron, RAAF Base Amberley, thrills trade-day crowds on the first day of the Australian International Airshow at Avalon, Victoria. Because the ‘Avalon Airshow’ is currently running (28 February to 5 March for the trade, and 3-5 March for public access) and with this magazine published on day two, we only had time and space to include this teaser photo from one of our photographers on site. But don’t worry – we have two great photographers covering the show for us and anticipate receiving hundreds of awesome photos – enough to fill a whole other magazine, in fact. That’s why, on 2 April, we will publish a Special Issue of COMBAT Camera magazine dedicated entirely to the awesome action at Avalon.


CONTACT Air Land & Sea – 2017 Yearbook

US Air Force photo by Staff Sergeant Ryan Callaghan

JUNE BIG PICTURE Aircraft from the US Air Force 23rd Wing conducted a surge exercise May 22, 2017, at Moody Air Force Base, Georgia, in order to demonstrate the wing’s ability to rapidly deploy combat-ready forces. The 23rd Wing maintains and operates A-10C Thunderbolt IIs for precision attack, HH60G Pave Hawks for personnel recovery, and HC-130J Combat King II for combat support.




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Photo by Helen Frank

HMAS CANBERRA HMAS Canberra passes an oil rig in Bass Strait as part of the Royal Australian Navy’s ongoing commitment to demonstrating its ability to protect Australia’s borders and offshore interests.


CONTACT Air Land & Sea – 2017 Yearbook

Photo by Leading Aircraftman David McKay


A Royal Australian Air Force KC-30A MRTT sits on the tarmac in London, Ontario, Canada, participating in a local air show while its passengers, Australia’s Invictus Games athletes did their thing in Toronto, in September.


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Photos by Corporal Kyle Genner

Around 1900 new police, trained by Australian and New Zealand soldiers, graduated from the Taji Military Complex on 16 February 2017. Task Group Taji conducted six weeks of intensive instruction to the cohort from Iraq’s Ninewah province comprising Sunni, Shia, Kurdish and Turkmen. The ADF says more than 19,000 – NZDF says 20,000+ – Iraqi Security Forces (ISF) and Iraqi law enforcement personnel have now been trained under Task Group Taji since May 2015. The Commander of Australia’s Defence Forces in the Middle East region, Major General John Frewen said the graduation marked a significant milestone. “This graduation is an important event as these Ninewah policemen will help ensure that we not only 10

win the current fight but, more importantly, we win the subsequent peace,” Major General Frewen said. “Police forces are essential to building a capable and inclusive Iraq.” Commander Joint Forces New Zealand Major General Tim Gall said the latest graduation was not just a training milestone. “The latest batch of trainees to march out now form part of stabilisation forces who are working to ensure that the gains made against Daesh – in Ramadi, Fallujah, east Mosul and other parts of Iraq – are sustained. “By providing world-class training to the Iraqi Army and police forces our personnel help ensure there is a steady flow of capable fighters who can sustain the Iraqi

military’s counter-offensive operation against Daesh and keep the militants from regaining footholds in areas that have already been cleared,” Major General Gall said. Task Group Taji Rotation 4 commander Colonel Richard Vagg said the recent graduates would undertake security and stabilisation tasks in and around Mosul, and in northern Iraq. “Iraq’s security forces, including federal and local police, are playing the lead role in defeating Daesh – then defending, holding and stabilising liberated areas,” Colonel Vagg said. “Our current group of trainers from the Australian and New Zealand Defence Forces have provided more than 1900 members of these forces with much-needed military skills. CONTACT Air Land & Sea – 2017 Yearbook


POLICE ACADAMY “Iraqi Security Forces continue to lead the successful operation underway to liberate Mosul and maintain security in territory recaptured from Daesh.” Colonel Vagg said that as more areas continue to be liberated from Daesh, strong and effective hold forces are a priority, to maintain security and support stabilisation operations. “Hold forces such as the Ninewah Police are a key element in the ongoing clearance of Mosul. “They will secure the now-cleared eastern side of the city, providing flank protection to the Counter Terrorism Service, Iraqi Army and Federal Police as they clear the western side.” “These police are determined to defend their country against Daesh.” Now in its fourth rotation, Task Group Taji is a combined force of around 300 Australian and 110 New Zealand Defence Force personnel, made up of trainers, force protection soldiers, support personnel and command elements. The training they deliver includes law of armed conflict, weapons handling, marksmanship, combat first aid, explosive hazard awareness, obstacle breaching, combined-arms and urban operations. NZDF PR says Small groups of the NZDF training and force protection teams are also travelling for short periods to other secure training locations in Iraq. While the Aussies may also be outreaching, they don’t tend to publicise it. Since last November, New Zealand soldiers have been training stabilisation forces such as the Iraqi Border Guards in addition to the Iraqi Army and police. Task Group Taji became fully operational in May 2015 and both the Australian and New Zealand goverments have committed to continue with the training until at least November 2018. Task Group Taji is just one of several Australian and New Zealand operations in the Middle East. With Iraq (Taji and Air Task Group), Afghanistan, maritime patrol and their support elements, plus observers in Egypt, Sudan and Lebanon, there are more than 2000 ANZACs on duty in the region. Find, like, share on


Photos by Corporal Kyle Genner


CONTACT Air Land & Sea – 2017 Yearbook


AUSTRALIA DAY ON OPS Find, like, share on

Australian soldiers Private Callum Scott-Mills (left) and Lance Corporal Mitchel Bowman from Task Group Taji 4 celebrate Australia Day 2017 at Taji Military Complex, Iraq.


Photos by Able Seaman Chris Beerens

passing on

urban skills T

raining for combat in urban environments is routine for Australian or New Zealand soldiers who recently passed on some of their knowledge to Iraqi soldiers who will soon face Da’esh. Soldiers from the Iraqi Army’s 53rd Brigade recently completed an urban combat training course with trainers of Task Group Taji Rotation 5 on Operation Okra. Task Group Taji is a combined force of 300 Australian and 106 New Zealand Defence Force personnel. Aussie instructor Lieutenant Andrew Pham said Iraqi soldiers understood the value of urban-combat training, particularly because the primary battle-space in Iraq has been in urban environments such as Mosul.


“Urban combat training is an essential skill that will increase the Iraqi Security Forces capability to defeat Da’esh,” Lieutenant Pham said. “This course has focused on company-sized operations to assault and defend positions in urban terrain. “This includes manoeuvring to the objective using concealment, using support by fire, and breaching methods.” Throughout the course trainees were instructed on technical components of urban combat including how to manoeuvre tactically and safely through densly built-up areas and how to engage the enemy at close range. Also instructing on the course was Corporal Zachary Dawes who said it was a rewarding experience to be

able to pass on tactical training that would have a real impact on combat operations. “Some of the more technical key skills and drills I was able to pass on included how to tactically move around corners, down hallways and up stairways,” Corporal Dawes said. “The Iraqis were very happy to learn from us and they had no problems putting the lessons into practice.” These soldiers – about 1300 of them – are heading to the front line after graduating in late August. This latest batch of graduates brings to more than 26,000 the total number of Iraqi troops trained by TG Taji. Commander Joint Forces New Zealand Major General Tim Gall said this graduation was a significant CONTACT Air Land & Sea – 2017 Yearbook


milestone for our combined training mission in Iraq and a significant contribution to the continuing fight against ISIS. “Although ISIS extremists have been expelled from Mosul they still control slivers of territory in areas such as Tal Afar and Hawija,” Major General Gall said. “Our training mission is helping the Iraqi Army generate more capable fighters to liberate these areas from the control of this terror group.” The most accurate shooters from the 53rd Brigade were also partnered with specialist Australian and New Zealand Defence Force instructors from Task Group Taji to hone their marksmanship skills. Selected soldiers were trained as part of an advanced marksmanship course that was designed to hone and develop long-range shooting techniques. Senior instructor Australian Major John Crockett said the course was aimed at introducing and qualifying students on long-range rifles and using them with precision to neutralise enemy targets at varying distances. “These soldiers have been hand-picked from across the Iraqi Army’s 53rd Brigade,” Major Crockett said. “Our focus is on making them more accurate, confident and capable as marksmen. “The interaction between the Iraqi soldiers and our instructors has been really positive which makes this much easier to achieve.” Throughout the course students were taught key marksmanship principles and how to use their weapons effectively, including how to accurately gauge distances to targets. Instructor Corporal Daniel O’Connor said the Iraqi soldiers were very enthusiastic about the course and acted on their instructors’ feedback. “Our instructors come from across the Australian and New Zealand Army and there is a lot of experience we are able to pass on to our Iraqi partners,” Corporal O’Connor said. “The Iraqi soldiers adapt quickly to training and you can see they really like working with us. “These soldiers may be using our training in combat operations against Da’esh in the near future.” Find, like, share on


Angels i n Armo


WORDS AND PICS CORPORAL MAX BREE Travelling the streets of Kabul can be daunting, however Australian troops serving in the city have their own dedicated protection force of angles and armour to keep the risk manageable. The soldiers of Force Protection Element 8 (FPE-8) and their protected vehicles have the job of moving people safely around town where they then maintain an overwatch role while specialist personnel undertake their work. The team is based on 3RAR’s B Company and consists of about 150 soldiers who are tasked with protecting Australian advisors and mentors working for the NATO mission in Afghanistan. On the way to a task, you might be taken in an up-armoured 4WD or a Bushmaster Protected Mobility Vehicle (PMV) driven by an infantryman like Private Javier Batlle. 16

“Kabul is like any major city, the traffic can be pretty full-on,” he said. “People tend to let us through places first though, they think of us as being a small tank, so people generally get out of the way. “No-one really tries to take on a 15-tonne PMV.” Private Batlle and his fellow drivers are trained in tactical driving to deal with other cars, however often it is people on foot that can be the danger. “You have to watch out for people getting out in front of you as pedestrians tend to have right of way in their culture,” he said. Passengers in the back of a Bushmaster don’t enjoy the best view, but the vehicle crew have a 360-degree field of vision thanks to a remote-controlled protected weapons station on top of the Bushmaster.

“When you first drive in Kabul you have to take it easy,” Private Batlle said. “Other cars will always try to creep up on the inside as you’re turning. “They sometimes don’t appreciate how big and bulky a PMV is and what it could do to a normal car.” Once you arrive in location, a guardian angel like Lance Corporal Mark Schure will keep an eye out for threats while you go about your business. “You have to stay on the ball all the time, it’s that moment of compliancy where things can go wrong,” Lance Corporal Schure said. “You can do a four-hour stint and nothing happens, but you have to make sure you’re always ready to deal with anything.” CONTACT Air Land & Sea – 2017 Yearbook

Lieutenant Ian Beeto n Private Javier Batlle

The guardian angels will be with you when you’re working outside at an Afghan base or in a meeting. “You’re constantly scanning the room,” Lance Corporal Schure said. “You have a plan if you have to get out of a building quickly. “You’re thinking about where your mentor is, how you would best grab him, and different scenarios. “Apart from windows, you’re also keeping an eye on apertures like gaps in the walls.” Major Sam Thackray, the Officer Commanding FPE-8, said the professional standard of his team was well known among the Coalition partners. Find, like, share on

“We’re often approached by other nations to get support from our team,” he said. “The reputation of the Australian Force Protection Element over here is exceptional. “It’s due to the quality of the training we receive in Australia and our outstanding junior leadership.” The Bushmasters also proved a hit with coalition soldiers who had the chance to ride in one. “They say they’re comfortable and the professionalism of the crews impresses them as well,” Major Thackray said.

Private Michael Fowler

Private Michael Fowler

The ADF’s commitment to Afghanistan is known as Operation Highroad and is fulfilled by personnel serving with the ADF’s Task Group Afghanistan. Around 270 ADF members from the Royal Australian Navy, the Australian Army, the Royal Australian Air Force and Defence civilians are deployed in Afghanistan under Operation Highroad. 17


Six years ago I was a soldier in the volatile province of Uruzgan, where Australia sent the bulk of its forces during its commitment to the Afghanistan War. Australia has since withdrawn from Uruzgan, closing another ostensibly successful chapter in its military history and begun celebrating its actions. Yet despite the deaths of 41 soldiers, hundreds badly wounded and $7.5 billion spent on the war, remarkably little was achieved. Uruzgan is now the single most Taliban-controlled province in Afghanistan. My home was a remote outpost in a farming valley where a handful of Australian and Afghan soldiers lived, worked and fought the Taliban together. Despite the hardships and numerous casualties, we achieved some modest successes. Taliban insurgents remained, but the loss of fighters, commanders and equipment weakened them. Security was gradually improving and there was hope that one day government services could be introduced to the area. But any sense of accomplishment was tempered by the knowledge that Australia would soon be withdrawing from the base, leaving the Afghans to provide security on their own. I was not optimistic about their chances. These concerns are now justified. Taliban fighters overran the outpost last October and dozens of Afghan soldiers defending it reportedly defected. A video published on the Taliban’s news website, Al Emarah, shows soldiers surrendering the base and handing over weapons and armoured vehicles. Nearby bases fell in a similar manner and the Taliban now control the valley. Despite years of commitment and the loss of at least eight soldiers, Australian forces left little lasting impact. What happened there is just one example of a broad collapse of security across Uruzgan. After Australian troops withdrew in 2013, the Taliban made sweeping gains and now claim to control the entire province except for district centres. Uruzgan Governor Mohammed Nazir Kharoti has called for Australia to return to the province and says the Taliban are threatening the capital, Tarin Kot, and are “coming very close to the city…a kilometre, to two kilometres in some sites.” 18

Patrol Base Wahab pictured above under control of the Afghan National Army in 2011 and, inset, after falling to the Taliban. Main photo taken by the author – inset image from Al Emarah, web site of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan. CONTACT Air Land & Sea – 2017 Yearbook

Reinforcements have prevented the city from falling, but the countryside remains out of the government’s reach. So, what of Australia’s legacy in Afghanistan? Attempts to bring Uruzgan under enduring government control certainly failed. Yet Australia’s Chief of Army Lieutenant General Angus Campbell defends Australia’s achievements as part of a bigger picture, citing “education, communication and thousands of kilometres of road infrastructure” that have improved quality of life for Afghans and liberated them from the desperate conditions they once endured. Australia’s commitment may have indirectly supported social and economic development elsewhere in Afghanistan, in the larger cities and safer provinces. But in Uruzgan, quality of life remains dire. Even before the Taliban seized much of the province, government services and infrastructure began to crumble. According to tribal elder Haji Mohammad Qasim, two years after Australia’s departure only 20 per cent of Uruzgan’s schools remained functional. Those that were open were run by elderly teachers with no understanding of modern education. Health care was non-existent in most places while the central hospital relied on unqualified staff with inadequate supplies. Some infrastructure projects were successful, but many were never completed and much of Uruzgan received no development. The province remains a leading producer of opium. Despite this grim picture, can Australians take comfort in the idea that they did their best against insurmountable obstacles? It is debatable. A controversial strategy facilitated the spectacular collapse of governance and security in Uruzgan. Leaders neglected the requirement to build government institutions that follow the rule of law. Instead, they used a tribal warlord named Matiullah Khan to assert control through his personal power. His assassination in 2015 left behind a province with no successor and no viable institutions. Uruzgan descended deeper into lawlessness and the Taliban capitilised on the chaos. Uruzgan’s only hope now is that the government in Kabul will survive and become strong enough to impose order. This is a tenuous prospect. The government’s authority is dwindling, now controlling just 57 per cent of Afghanistan and propped up only by foreign support. As I look back, I wonder if we ever had a chance of success. Without enough manpower to defeat the insurgency and without serious efforts to build a functional administration, it is difficult to imagine how Australia’s mission could have ended differently. Despite this, Australia poured soldiers and resources into the province for nine years. Australians and Afghans alike paid a heavy price, with many killed and countless more bearing physical and psychological wounds that will never completely heal.

Combat Outpost Mashal as manned by Australian and Afghan soldiers and, inset, under Taliban control. Main photo taken by the author – inset image from Al Emarah, web site of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan.

The question is unavoidable – was it worth it? Find, like, share on


AFGHANISTAN By Brian Hartigan and ADF

Are we



CONTACT Air Land & Sea – 2017 Yearbook


going back? Sergeant Mark Adcock – Protected Mobility Vehicle Commander for ADF personnel at Camp Qargha. Photo by Sergeant Ricky Fuller.

eration Highroad istan is known as Op an gh Af to t en itm m sk Group The ADF’s com ing with the ADF’s Ta rv se el nn rso pe by and is fulfilled d around the Afghanistan. istan is situated in an an gh Af p ou Gr sk Tarin Kot in Uruzgan, Australia’s Ta 400km north-west of ly ar ne – l bu Ka al, Afghan capit stralia. mission concer n to Au reased to 300 – from which is no longer of bers – soon to be inc em m F AD 0 27 nd the Royal Australian In total, arou e Australian Ar my, th , vy Na an ali str istan as part of the Royal Au e deployed in Afghan ar ns ilia civ ce fen De Air Force and . ing roles... Operation Highroad b elements with vary su o int lit sp is p ou This total gr

Task Group Afghanistan (TG Afghanistan) Task Group Afghanistan’s headquarters at Kabul’s Hamid Karzai International Airport comprises a command element of about 45 ADF personnel, who coordinate administration, communications and logistics support for all ADF members deployed in Afghanistan.

Force Communications Element (FCE) Personnel from the Force Communications Element (FCE) in Kabul support TGAfghanistan by providing communication and information systems, which are coordinated and compatible with coalition systems, enabling ADF interoperability with other-country forces.

Force Support Element (FSE) Force Support Element (FSE) personnel in Kabul provide logistics and administration support to TG Afghanistan – everything from mail and food to fuel and ammunition.

HQ Resolute Support, Train Advise Assist Command – South, and Train Advise Assist Command – Air embeds ADF personnel perform a variety of specialist and advisory roles as embeds within HQ Resolute Support (HQ RS) in Kabul; the Train Advise Assist Command – South (TAAC-S) in Kandahar (450km south-west of Kabul) and Train Advise Assist Command-Air (TAAC-Air) in Kabul. ADF embeds work with members of the coalition, Afghan National Defence and Security Forces (ANDSF) and Afghan security ministries to assist in institutional capacity building within the Afghan security institutions.

Afghan National Army Officer Training Academy ADF trainers and mentors are developing the next generation of Afghan National Army leaders at the Afghanistan National Army Officer Academy (ANAOA) in Qargha near Kabul. The UK-led ANAOA mission is supported by Australia, New Zealand, Denmark and others. A Force Protection Element of Australian soldiers provide security and protected mobility support for Resolute Support forces at ANAOA.

Kabul Garrison Command A force protection element and advisors support the Kabul Garrison Command in Kabul.

Special Operations Advisory Group A small contingent of Australian special-forces personnel provide support to NATO Special Operations Component Command – Afghanistan and the Afghan General Command of Police Special Units Special Forces.

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Force Protection Element Completing a successful seven-month deployment to Kabul, Force Protection Element (FPE) 6 transitioned its operational role to FPE-7 on 25 January 2017. The Force Protection Element provides critical protection for Australian mentors working throughout Kabul, including at Headquarters Resolute Support, the Afghan National Army Officer Academy, Kabul Garrison General Command and the Afghan Air Force. FPE consists of more than 115 members mainly infantry soldiers.

FPE-6 Operations Officer Captain Luke Murphy said force protection played a critical role in achieving the ADF’s mission in Afghanistan. “As part of our role we were able to securely transport and protect the mentors travelling and working at the Afghan National Army Officer Academy (ANAOA), west of Kabul,” he said. “This meant they were able to conduct their training with the host nation mentees, who in turn pass the lessons learnt to the Afghan officer cadets.”

FPE-6 included a number of female guardian angels, which was essential for mentoring Afghan females. Sergeant Jo Rootham said mentoring required a mentor’s full attention, so knowing the force protection members were there, providing security and quick reaction if an incident occurred, set her mind at ease. Field exercises provide an opportunity for the Afghan officer cadets to conduct both section and platoon level patrolling and ambushes – but they are also a highthreat risk for the Aussies. Lance Corporal Albert Graham said the work of the Force Protection Element required constant threat assessment, especially during these field-exercise phases. “We had to make quick assessments on both external and internal threats as well as take into account movement, vehicle positioning and all other threats prevalent in the Afghan environment,” Lance Corporal Graham said. “Throughout the exercise the guardian angels were highly professional – offering advice on infantry operations, providing protection and maintaining a high level of morale throughout.” Bushmaster PMV driver Private Adrian Baena said he enjoyed his first deployment to the Middle East as a member of FPE-6. “It was a great experience – working with the coalition forces was fantastic,” Private Baena said. “We worked alongside several nations. The Irish detachment were really good blokes.” FPE-7 Section Commander Corporal Chad Whitehead said he was looking forward to his tour. “We’ve been training hard for this deployment, so it’s exciting to finally be here doing the job,” Corporal Whitehead said.

Sergeant Mark Adcock – Protected Mobility Vehicle Commander for ADF personnel at Camp Qargha. Photo by Sergeant Ricky Fuller.


CONTACT Air Land & Sea – 2017 Yearbook

Tested by Thunder Afghan Army officer cadets have been tested by thunder under the watchful eyes of Australian and coalition mentors. Over 22-27 April 2017, about 350 senior officer cadets from the academy’s 3rd Kandak (battalion) were put through their paces testing counterinsurgency tactics on Exercise Thunder at the Afghan National Army Officer Academy (ANAOA) in Kabul. Australian Army Captain Lachlan Joseph, a mentor embedded with the 3rd Kandak, said the training was particularly relevant given Afghanistan’s current insurgent threat. “We are focusing on providing advice and guidance on basic soldier skills for the tactical missions the cadets will likely perform when they graduate and deploy to the provinces,” Captain Joseph said. The 3rd Kandak’s three company-sized training groups, known as ‘tolays’, rotated through various training tasks including the defence of a forward operating base, providing a quick-reaction force and conducting counterinsurgency operations.

The counterinsurgency operations included simulated cordon and search operations as well as cordon and strike activities. Scenarios were enhanced by the support of role-players who provided the necessary civilian population and enemy forces. Officer cadets also received a theoretical training package, introducing them to basic counterinsurgency principles before deploying to the field for the seven-day exercise. Captain Joseph mentors several Afghan blook (platoon) commanders, supported by a British Army mentor, Sergeant John Baker, who advises his tolay’s senior non-commissioned officers, known as ‘bridmal’. Together, Captain Joseph and Sergeant Baker assist in exercise planning, training execution and providing feedback to their mentees to enhance the standard of instruction and training for the officer cadets. Sergeant Baker, an engineer by trade, said his previous operational experience in Helmand Province was highly valued among the Afghan instructors. “The Afghan mentees are positive towards our mentoring, they respect our knowledge and our previous operational experience,” Sergeant Baker said. “They are taking on our advice and are adapting their lessons accordingly– seeing them do this is extremely rewarding.” ANAOA is widely renowned as the country’s premier training establishment, largely due to the work being done by the coalition advisory team. With capable and confident officer cadets graduating and being deployed to the provinces, it is hoped the Afghan National Army will be better prepared to defeat insurgent threats gripping the country.

An Afghan National Army Officer Academy cadet moves out on patrol during Exercise Thunder at the Qargha training area.

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SNCOs critical A key figure in any military forc e is the senior noncommissioned officer (SNCO) – mentoring, advocating for and leading soldiers. SNC Os also guide and mentor junior officers, providing advice and guidance based on their more extensive experience . They are the critical connector between officers and the troops. Sergeant Justin Cowan plays this critical role at the Afghan National Army Officer Academy (ANAOA), mentoring Afghan SNCOs and junior-officer platoon commanders to become more effective leaders. Sergeant Cowan said develop ing the relationship between the Afghan SNCOs (bri dmals) and junior officers (blook commanders) was very important. “As mentors, we work alongside the instructors passing on our experience and experti se to improve their fieldcraft skills, patrolling techniques and weapon-handling drills,” Sergeant Cowan said. “This ensures that the level of training being delivered to the Afghan officer cadets is of the highest standard. “More importantly, it allows us to promote the importance of the link betwee n bridmals and blook commanders. “As mentors, we demonstrate instructional techniques and work together with junior officers to show how the relationship should be.” Within ANAOA there are four Australian SNCO mentors and up to 11 coalition mentors from the United Kingdom, New Zealand and Denmark. The Senior Australian Officer at ANAOA Lieutenant Colonel Steve Jenkins said SNC O mentors were essential to the success of mentoring for the Afghan National Army. “The SNCOs at ANAOA lead by example, showing the value of their experience and knowledge, particularly for junior officers,” Lieutenant Col onel Jenkins said. “SNCOs lead in the mentoring of Afghan National Army instructors in field exercises. “In barracks they reinforce the importance of the SNCO in the delivery of training, and setting and maintaining the standards expected of a profess ional military academy. “For Australian Army SNCOs, a deployment as a mentor at ANAOA provides the opportu nity to reinforce their strong instructional skills. “It’s an opportunity to work with many coalition forces and to gain a strong sense of achieve ment in the development of the future leaders of the Afghan National Army.” At ANAOA, to the west of Kab ul, 80 Australian Defence Force (ADF) trainers and mento rs are developing the next generation of Afghanistan Nat ional Army leaders, along with partners from the UK, New Zealand and Denmark.


Sh arpeni ng Kabu l’s securi t y spe ar Australian Army officer Major John Spencer points out details of an Afghan National Army Officer Academy cordon and search exercise to New Zealand colleagues, guarded by British soldiers. Photo by Sergeant Ricky Fuller.


CONTACT Air Land & Sea – 2017 Yearbook

Formed in 2015, Kabul Garrison Command (KGC) has been tasked by the President of Afghanistan to improve the security of the Kabul province – and the ADF is helping make it happen. Supported by an Australian Defence Force advisory team (KGC-AT), KGC is the only joint command in Afghanistan, comprising about 14,000 Afghan National Police, 8000 Afghan National Army and 3000 National Directorate of Security intelligence personnel. The Australians provide critical mentoring support to the Afghan commander, Lieutenant General Gul Nabi Ahmadzai, and KGC principal staff officers at the senior-leadership level. Commander of KGC-AT, Australian Army officer Colonel Michael Murdoch, said that despite an extremely complex operating environment, he had been continually impressed by the advisory team’s achievements. “Our team has helped KGC to conduct its first multiCorps joint operation in insurgent safe havens, and enhanced joint search and clearance operations,” Colonel Murdoch said.

“We have also helped create an intelligence-led operational culture and improved their ability to communicate with the residents of Kabul through information operations.” Under the unified command of Lieutenant General Ahmadzai, KGC provides security for more than six million residents of Kabul province. Lieutenant General Ahmadzai said the support of the Australian mentors had been essential to their success as a joint unit within Afghanistan. “The Australian military advisers are really making a difference for us and our government in Afghanistan – our mission is united as one,” Lieutenant General Ahmadzai said. “The mentors work with us every day to help improve security in Kabul, which in turn improves the security of Afghanistan.” Success of the KGC has led to the planned creation of six new regional joint commands based on a similar model and, in future, a national joint command as part of the Afghan National Defence and Security Forces (ANDSF) roadmap.

Colonel Murdoch said that the lessons learned by Kabul Garrison Command and the advisory team would be pivotal in ensuring the successful establishment of the new regional joint commands across Afghanistan. “KGC has overcome numerous obstacles to establish itself as the country’s first joint command,” Colonel Murdoch said. “They have done so in little over 18 months, despite no previous joint culture within the ANDSF, and in almost constant contact with insurgents and criminals. “Without a doubt, the achievements of KGC and the advisory team together have had a positive impact on security across Kabul province.” Lieutenant Genaral Ahmadzai said Kabul Garrison Command had had a good affect on Kabul security through daily patrols, checkpoints and clearing operations. “We continue to build the trust of Kabul residents through coordinated security and quick responses to incidents so that we can bring peace to Kabul, and ultimately, Afghanistan,” he said.

Commander Kabul Garrison Lieutenant General Gul Nabi Ahmadzai in his office. Photo by Sergeant Ricky Fuller.

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Teaching Tact i cal On Hunter range, 36km south of Kabul, three Afghan Air Force (AAF) officers prepare their calculations to call in an MD-530 attack helicopter in their final test before becoming qualified Afghan Tactical Air Coordinators (ATACs), or known in Dari as ‘Hamahangee Tacticy Hawayee’. Observing is Royal Australian Air Force officer Flight Lieutenant David Jobson, who has helped over the past three weeks to develop their skills through his role as the air-to-ground integration (AGI) adviser to NATO’s 438th Air Expeditionary Wing, Train Advise Assist – Air (TAAC-Air) team. The TAAC-Air ATAC course was established in 2016, largely enabled by the work of Flight Lieutenant Jobson’s predecessors, Flight Lieutenants Michael Keene and Thomas Murdock. “My predecessors played a key role in setting up the course and putting the policy in place to conduct livefire training at Hunter Range,” Flight Lieutenant Jobson said. “Before then, the Afghan ATACs did not have a proper training curriculum and, at some units, the role of an ATAC was largely considered a secondary duty.” The AAF previously did not have enough dedicated qualified ATACs to integrate aerial fires with ground forces, now referred to as Air-Ground Integration, in support of ground troops fighting the enemy.

Now the coalition TAAC-Air team has graduated six courses including 26 AAF officers and 28 Afghan National Army officers. The growth in the Afghan ATAC capability comes at a time when new Afghan counter-insurgency aircraft are entering service, and Flight Lieutenant Jobson said the five newly graduated ATACs will be deployed to conduct close air strikes in support of Afghan National Defense and Security Forces operations – ultimately strengthening the overall AAF offensive capability. However, more ATACs are needed and Flight Lieutenant Jobson must now focus on improving the ATAC and instructor curriculum. “The course itself is challenging and the Afghan students are already at a disadvantage due to their lack of education,” Flight Lieutenant Jobson said. “Currently the ATAC course has approximately a 60 per cent pass rate. “The students are often senior officers who have been in the forces for a long time but have had no prior ATAC training.” In just three weeks, they learn how to calculate enemy position coordinates and how to pass that information by radio to strike aircraft. With a strong background in training and development, Flight Lieutenant Jobson will be looking at ways to graduate more ATACs.

“Here I’m using my instructional and trainingdevelopment background to enhance their training program and to develop an appropriate training curriculum for the ATAC course,” he said. “From my observations and talking with students they would like to see more visual aids, either pictures or demonstrations, to overcome language barriers.” Even with improvements made to the training material, the quality of the material is only as good as the quality of the instructor. For this reason, Flight Lieutenant Jobson said that ‘teach the teacher’ was a key part of his role. “At TAAC-Air we also conduct the instructors’ course to teach ATACs instructional techniques. “This is important and advantageous as the course material can be instructed in Dari language without losing intent through an interpreter.” Flight Lieutenant Jobson said that the course has had some fantastic results, recently graduating an AAF instructor who has just finished instructing his first ATAC course as primary instructor. “This AAF instructor is a positive and encouraging success story of the TAAC-Air AGI ATAC program having graduated from both the ATAC and instructors’ courses. “He is one of the most effective and competent ATAC operators and instructors in the AAF and is soon to be promoted to major, due to his abilities.”

Right: Flight Lieutenant David Jobson watches as an Afghan National Army officer calls in MD-530 attack-helicopters (below) for an air strike during a range practice in Kabul. Photos by Sergeant Ricky Fuller.


CONTACT Air Land & Sea – 2017 Yearbook

Air Coordi nat ors

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alisman Sabr


CONTACT Air Land & Sea – 2017 Yearbook


enth time this ugh most of July, was the sev thro e Jun late from , 17) (TS 7 xercise Talisman Sabre 201 ivity has been conducted. and United States training act biennial combined Australian tion activities, TS17 incorporated force-prepara y itar mil ive ect resp n trai to ed us bio landings, TS17 was design special-forces activities, amphi edbin com ting duc con and ng uvre, urban forces in planni parachuting, land-force manoe bat com the e rov imp to ons rati ritime operations task-force ope operations, air operations, ma the allies. en we bet ty bili era rop ammunition inte readiness and and the coordinated firing of live t tha g kin erta und jor ma a s wa smallar ms, artillery, The exercise and explosive ordnance from New US, , lian stra Au 000 30, n tha involved more naval vessels and aircraft. e personnel, with k place Zealand and Japanese defenc The majority of TS17 action too d on the use foc , ing erv obs es ntri near a, cou several other in Shoalwater Bay Training Are high-end ity ens -int mid of t sland coast, duc een con planning and Rockhampton on the central-Qu g Area, inin Tra warfighting. as well as in the Mount Bundy re we raft airc 220 and ry, and in ps rito rshi Ter About 36 wa south of Darwin in the Northern largest the – e rcis exe g -lon nth mo involved in the seas north and east of Australia. so far. rated from and most complex in the series Personnel and assets also ope e, which rcis exe t pos ndma com a ed and Canberra as TS17 combin Darwin, Townsville, Brisbane ios, with nar sce and es forc ted ula sim Virginia, Colorado incorporated well as from Hawaii, Indiana, uvring of noe ma saw t tha e rcis exe g a field-trainin and Washington in the USA. areas. large forces in various exercise

s n a l p d i a l t s e b e Th de under cams are ma

a bit confusing, “At times it can be stressful and arding than it rew re mo but it’s definitely fun and .” t line of Exercise looks from the outside While diggers fought on the fron headquarters d, nne pla s Command had to coordinate 11 wa sion mis ir Talisman Sabre, the the US Army, US , and 27 sub-units across 3 Brigade under cam nets at synchronised and coordinated y. Marines and the NZ Arm arters at various the 3 Brigade Forward Headqu adier Chris Field a, Are g But 3 Brigade Commander Brig inin Tra Bay r ate alw Sho the in s tion loca t and combined said it meant they had the join for Australian, US where the pressure was intense mission. combat power to achieve their soldiers to make an rn from each and New Zealand officers and lea ld cou “Teamwork meant we t, advance tex effective battle plan. con e rcis exe cial, as New other, but also in an cru e wer nt poi this at ns isio dec Good manner that and close with the enemy in a e observed. Pyl e Dal tain Cap y Arm d lan lition warfighting,” Zea demonstrated the power of coa t at this end, then “If you don’t have good produc plan on the front Brigadier Field said. el sub-component that will result in potentially a bad For 3 Brigade, the Exercise Ham . said he st,” mo the nts cou nt as it was the final line where it of Talisman Sabre was importa – the more e her t righ it get can we re certification. mo “The hurdle for the brigade’s ‘ready’ ryone else’s life eve kes ma – it into tification for more put cer we rt our effo “We’ve been training for privilege to see at gre a s easier down the road.” wa it ed, than 18 months, so iver del ers ord and ed form s wa ded their best Once the plan our soldiers step up when we nee , joint fires nce llige inte of m tea ck -clo -the an around efforts,” Brigadier Field said. parties and signals senior NCOs, and effects, tactical air control “We needed junior officers and the battle space, red nito mo and the Army, d of ate s der rdin lea coo f w’s staf who will be tomorro from the field. ng and nni pla s arm edbin acting on information coming com to experience the said ck khe Joc t ber Her tain US Army Cap warfighting. tic at times. , so, on each headquarters experience was fran “Warfighting is difficult to per fect up to date with stay to ems, our ge syst llen our cha e a rov ays imp alw “It’s exercise, we seek to grating those with es.” selv our and y all the reports coming in and inte interoperabilit future plans,” he said.

By Captain Anna-Lise Brink

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Australia’s biggest ever

aviation battle group By Lieutenant Sarah West

und29 helicopters supported the gro More than 500 personnel and ever e Talisman Sabre, in the largest warfare mission during Exercis group – BG Pegasus. Australian-led aviation battle bat missions and air support The conduct of rotary-wing com ibility rnational affair, with the respons was a fully integrated inte al Roy the th nts, st Aviation Regime shared by Australia’s 1 and 5 Task n atio Avi y’s adron and US Arm New Zealand Air Force’s 3 Squ -led lian stra Au ing together in an Force Diamond Head, all serv of 5 Lieutenant Colonel Kim Gilfillan by battle group commanded Aviation Regiment. th asus Lieutenant Colonel Elizabe Deputy Commander of BG Peg t Reg the US Army’s 2-25 Avn Martin, who usually commands 25th Infantry Division), said of (an assault helicopter battalion international team working watching the members of the together was rewarding. his team were instrumental in “Lieutenant Colonel Gilfillan and tle cture for this multinational bat setting the foundation and stru rtin said. group,” Lieutenant Colonel Ma und n capabilities to affect the gro “The integration of our aviatio a truly combined battle group, force in a challenging fight as was impressive. s, refuellers and staf f learning “Seeing the pilots, crewmember ntries resenting their individual cou so much from each other – rep nt ifica sign a s n mission – wa in unified support of a commo achievement. ected at all levels within the “This integration has been refl ted and combined aviation battle group, with a fully integra g es planning, briefing and flyin command and all three countri missions together. erience.” “It has been an incredible exp erse battle group, which was div y BG Pegasus was a notabl aphics of its workforce, but also reflected not only in the demogr H range of aircraft including AR in its capabilities – with a broad HMR , gbow attack helicopters Tiger and AH-64D Apache Lon k nook and UH-60M Black Haw 90 Taipan, NH-90, CH-47F Chi tion cua Black Hawk medical eva utility helicopters, and HH-60M and Grey Eagle remotely helicopters – as well as Shadow piloted aerial systems.

devacs – 51 missions – 700 sorties BG Pegasus by the numbers: 24 me carried into combat – 120-person – 1140 flight hours – 1940 soldiers ,119kg of freight and equipment 100nm night-flight over water – 469 bine fuel used moved – 590,353 litres of aviation tur 30

CONTACT Air Land & Sea – 2017 Yearbook

l a r o c p u o r Battle g Road to ready

ish and Japanese “The Kiwis, US, Canadians, Brit of s ect asp ng agi our enc st y and significantly “One of the mo brought a richness to the activit bat om e-c ran clos Do ed rk anc Ma ral adv rpo the s By Co all involved,” Talisman Sabre wa enhanced the per formance of of ers on mb me ded the clu by con ed dy’ ibit rea exh to said. skills and behaviours Battle Group Coral’s ‘road Lieutenant Colonel McLennan r six days, it ove en, wh re Sab up. there is an an as gro l ism tle ntia Tal bat e esse the Exercis “Such integration is gh and iron-hard, into the area of tou C17 are n and me 30 wo C-1 es operating AF and selv n RA our me by r ing “Ou inserted uncanny trend of us find lly. sica partners at phy n litio and . coa lly ons menta operati and fighting alongside our phibious ers of the Am offic the of n and atio iers tific sold cer the the es, ted stag “At all It suppor short notice.” on target, hands one of the said the Ready Element by providing battle group had their eyes up, Lieutenant Colonel McLennan the ing pris com ms dy. tea rea bat and com ns ieved in a light ir weapo three infantry combined-arms integration ach vided on the ing pro erg and em ” s nd’ Day ma “D for Com up ces Gro For k to Amphibious Tas “I attribute this battle group was potent. g focus.” aviators, ive and combat-shooting trainin bat a combat team for 3 Brigade. com “Our joint fires teams, engineers, d itise dig CO s, for arm re edSab bin an com ism Tal try, s transfor med As a light-infan Another highlight of dical personnel and logistician me to 200 n n dow tha re tion mo itisa by dig d of nte ss fighting force” battle group, augme 1RAR was the effectivene battle group into a formidable the al Cor BG t, Reg rine Ma aspect of the marines of L Coy, 3/4 combat-team level. He said the final encouraging act faster us offensive and and k thin to nt wa you if of closel lity ntia was tasked to conduct numero qua “It’s esse exercise was the superior night, in terrain sion success,” mis to key is ich wh s provided, , wa my ier defensive actions, primarily by ene than the combat equipment each sold to armoured or ive . duc said con not nan Len tion Mc eta l iers in the veg one sold Col and ped Lieutenant making 1RAR the best-equip the to . n ent dow vem itise mo dig le to hic is -ve step ted t tec pro “I think the nex world. McLennan a giant leap CO 1RAR Lieutenant Colonel Ben ht-fighting ividual combatant. This will be ind “Our new weaponry, sights, nig tle bat a ed the task and ade s Brig nes 3 r are nde aw ma nal said Com riage and body forward for the situatio enemy – equipment, uniforms, load car the h ns finis elo and ech fix nd , ma find ld com cou all t of group tha and outlast command and control armour allows us to outper form tration of force via n.” too pla achieving surprise and concen to nal isio div from anyone. r joint and coalition fires. e over all Colonel McLennan said anothe ant ten Lieu er nev “It’s giving us a competitive edg they seamless the s wa e “The enemy commander said rcis exe the of ht.” ht highlig adversaries – by day and nig s,” Lieutenant worked out where BG Coral wa gration with coalition forces. inte Colonel McLennan said.

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s e c r o f n r e h t r o N ith Marines 5RAR play w

we can work “We’re discovering new ways harder together.” e hary Casey, rcis Exe in t par ir the an beg A 5RAR section 2IC, Private Zac 5RAR soldiers 25. e Jun inspired both force on said training with the marines Talisman Sabre with a show of re Sab an Talism forces to improve. Dubbed Battlegroup Tiger for -N), FTX 7 s and have (TS1 orth e-N rcis Exe g “They definitely know their role 17 Field Trainin into n aircraft, insertio some amazing equipment and 5RAR conducted an airborne by ted Casey said. suppor especially the Osprey,” Private Mount Bundey Training Area om 1Y Ven about their “It has been exciting to learn MV-22B Osprey tilt rotor and UHthe ters from erent weapons and AH-1W Super Cobra helicop vehicles and the drills on the diff ). (MRF-D Marine Rotational Force-Darwin systems they use. om Ven ons with the the by ts aul ass n, Before insertio “If we need to deploy on operati my an ene r understanding and Cobra made short work of marines we will have a greate vy hea siles and platoon armed with Stinger mis of each other’s capabilities.” Corporal Iliaseri machine guns. A 5RAR section commander, lly was fina soldiers learnt When Mount Bundey airfield Ravetali, said the marines and re we ps troo US ing TS17 and dur tics lian tac stra Au er’s secured, more a lot about each oth es, cul Her 30 C-1 ps Cor rine Ma delivered by US FTX-N. mission. nt ways to to prepare for the next combat “We’ve found there are differe jor Ma y pan Com he said. D ,” ng sion ndi Officer comma complete a successful mis n too pla R their recent 5RA use first the and rt Jamie Smith said “The marines are sma pany com the ile wh yed during ain plo terr em y key the cleared nearby experiences and tactics es forc l cia spe h wit up ed t. headquarters link fighting in the Middle Eas hting, they elements nearby. “When it comes to urban warfig in F-D MR the e the Battle hav ing to te dur “We were fortuna use many lessons they learnt to es niti ortu opp us en giv Darwin as it has of Fallujah. Osprey,” Major ours and, as familiarise ourselves with the “Their tactics are different from I have taken r, Smith said. a small-team-tactics commande US the h wit rk wo to m on board us the “It’s important for a lot of what I have learnt from d goo as ible ons resp also are .” marines, and we and shared it with my section most out of iers and sold the said li hosts to make sure they get the eta Rav al Corpor lia. stra s during the their training in Au marines formed great friendship our ure ens to d nee we e “At the same tim Marine’s rotations in Darwin. d with them and s and they are soldiers become fully engage “There are no language barrier g. brin y the s litie the unique capabi good people,” he said. n increased and we “During this exercise we’ve see “They like us and we like them the er und g rkin wo ile months each interoperability wh train side-by-side for about six ich wh nt, ime reg rine ma g and sharing command of a US year, so we are always minglin an h wit g rkin wo from nt is completely differe knowledge.” Australian brigade.

By Corporal Mark Doran


CONTACT Air Land & Sea – 2017 Yearbook

Norforce chips in By Corporal Mark Doran

force during the Vigilance was the key for Nor an Sabre. northern component of Talism SU) soldiers from (RF t Regional Force Support Uni h Australian and wit four Nor force squadrons joined ears of the and s US Special Forces to be the eye ining Area. Tra dey bilateral exercise at Mount Bun ational Rot rine Ma They supported 5RAR and e orn airb ted Force–Darwin as they conduc midthe in t tac insertions and patrolled to con y. ivit act intensity high-end war fighting Squadron Officer commanding Kimberley U soldiers RFS the Major Chris McGlashan said Indigenous al ion ent played the role of an unconv partnering force. lly have “The RFSU soldiers, who nor ma e role in anc a surveillance and reconnaiss foundation re mo in remote areas, were trained tics, for the tac or min warfighting skills, or infantry exercise,” he said. h enthusiasm “They took to the challenge wit g. nin trai and were responsive to the

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unit of Indigenous “Trainers found the integrated and full-time and non-Indigenous reservists said they had a and h wit soldiers easy to work high level of trainability.” in the Army Nor force is a unique capability its own area of because it employs soldiers from l knowledge, and operations to draw on their loca es, are some of because, along with special forc duct operations on the only units to regularly con Australian soil. force soldiers Major McGlashan said the Nor tre, Darwin, Cen the from on TS17 were drawn ons. Arnhem and Kimberley squadr ior members to jun our of ny “We deployed ma nce,” he said. give them this training experie l role as sensors “Apart from doing their nor ma nce and within the intelligence, surveilla were up-skilled y the , lity abi reconnaissance cap of special-forces to participate on the periphery raids and direct actions.” ley Squadron, Private Corben Clyden, Kimber tyle and the said he enjoyed the Army lifes ls. skil new opportunity to learn nt from our nor mal “The training here was differe ways to conduct Nor force role and we learnt new my activities,” surveillance and report on ene Private Clyden said. patrols and “I especially enjoyed the night s.” tion loca my looking for the ene ortant to him Private Clyden said it was imp Indigenous an as e forc Nor to be a member of Australian. be a role model “It is an opportunity for me to show them the for the younger generation and a soldier within an experiences Army can offer as RFSU,” he said. skills to track “I also get to use my traditional people or find water and food. l communities “When I am working in my loca Aborigine I can also use my contacts – from rmation for info re mo out to Aborigine – to find Nor force.” er Private Shane Darling, a memb s wa 7 TS1 said on, adr of Darwin Squ h wit nce erie exp ng an eye-openi excellent training opportunities. “I would like to do more of this as we learnt skills we don’t nor mally learn with RFSU,” he said.


t n e m e g d o l s Amphibiou R A R 2 r o f h a r r u h t s La By Corporal Mark Doran

action-packed for Exercise Talisman Sabre was ichon as they the members of Battle Group Sam class amphibious demonstrated Australia’s worldcapability. pre-landing Contributing a large part of the combat element force and acting as the ground Force, the battle of the Australian Amphibious us ready-unit-sized group conducted an amphibio amphibious assault. of small Inserting using a combination icopters, BG hel and ft cra t boats, sur face assaul us battle group neo ulta r-sim Samichon made a nea multiple objectives in amphibious assault to secure ment. an uncertain security environ land Amphibious Zea The Australian and New A Ships Canberra Ready Group, consisting of HM Zealand Navy’s and Choules and the Royal New heart of a HMNZS Canterbury, formed the on. rati combined joint-entry ope berra, was a The assault, led from HMAS Can elopment of dev F’s AD significant milestone in the abilities. cap g htin rfig high-end amphibious wa , mainly nel son per More than 600 embarked as part of a ore ash ded comprised of 2RAR, procee rine Expeditionary flanking force for the US 31st Ma Unit. mbarkation, the After seizing the sea point of dise spent a short and BTA battle group moved into SW fight. the to g time in reserve before headin


ichon Lieutenant Commanding Officer BG Sam said he was Colonel Doug Pashley of 2RAR joint amphibious proud of his team, shifting from . operations to joint land combat in manoeuvre ma e thre ’s ade Brig “As one of 3 r enemy forces battle groups our role was to clea said. from the area of operations,” he not always are we on tali bat “As an infantry cert with the the most agile force, but in con operations, bile mo aire Bushmasters and som l tempo to pursue we were able to generate rea nities.” challenging targets and opportu one of the battle said y hle Lieutenant Colonel Pas r the key objective of group’s first missions was to clea south. Raspberry Creek or the village r, but we had “The enemy picture was unclea -64 Apaches and AH US assets available such as the s, which could asu Australian ARH Tigers of BG Peg s. nes provide great situational aware of the Australian “We also used the capabilities the US MQ-1C and US RQ-7B Shadow 200 and vided us with more Gray Eagle [drones] which pro my activities. indicators and warnings of ene pberry Creek after “We moved quickly to seize Ras sn’t significant. identifying enemy presence wa d to the “The combat teams were expose ain. terr an hum x ple challenges of a com to deal ded nee also ers ine “Our attached eng b factory, which with IEDs and we found a bom needed forensic exploitation.”

Samichon joined But the war wasn’t over yet. BG l assault on fina the the brigade’s main effort for d defensive are rep what turned out to be a well-p R and the 7RA of ps position with armour, plus troo than five s lles h wit Washington National Guard – ounted, dism a on hours notice before stepping off all-night insertion. ir .50 cal machine “Our DFSW platoon carried the ht to reach the guns and ammunition all nig some incredibly support-by-fire position through ain,” Lieutenant demanding vegetation and terr Colonel Pashley said. ere we needed to “But, by morning we were wh sed assault with the be and ready for a synchroni other two battle groups. tastic end to a “It was a great hit-out and a fan successful exercise. well and rose to “The boys and girls of 2RAR did were thrown at overcome whatever challenges them to get the job done.” Talisman Sabre Lieutenant Colonel Pashley said 2RAR had to nity ortu may have been the last opp deploy as BG Samichon. R will become From October 15 this year, 2RA st bious Task Group part of the 1 Division’s Amphi arack Barracks, will and, while remaining at Lav rd ade. no longer be a part of the 3 Brig specialist Instead it will become 1 Div’s on and centre of amphibious operations battali broader Army. expertise in amphib ops for the

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A VERY BIG YEAR 1 Division/ Deployable Joi nt Forces HQ st

1 Div/DJFHQ’s deployment on Exercise Hamel was the pinnacle in a training year that saw certification in the Vital exercise series, as well as support to the Sea Series of amphibious exercises and Exercise Northern Shield. Commander 1 Div/DJFHQ Major-General Paul McLachlan said the accomplishments of the headquarters in support of Army’s training program proved the benefits of having a genuine command-and-control structure overseeing brigade-level operations. “I set the challenge for my staff to adopt the business philosophy of delighting the customer when it came to supporting our subordinate formations within exercises and in our barracks


CONTACT Air Land & Sea – 2017 Yearbook

By Major Kris Gardiner and Lieutenant-Colonel Simon Hompas

role as the certifier of forces for operations,” MajorGeneral McLachlan said. “If we cannot add value to the training experience and outcome, then we are not viable. “I believe 1 Div/DJFHQ was able to deliver on that challenge and reinforce the benefits of having to respond to an actual two-star-level higher headquarters rather than a simulated one. “It allows combat-brigade commanders to focus on their warfighting outcomes, while 1 Div/DJFHQ synchronises, coordinates and prioritises joint effects and sustainment in support of brigade manoeuvre. “It has set a training benchmark that will benefit all formations within Army’s training cycle in the years to come.”

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Commander 1st Division/Deployable Joint Forces Headquarters – or 1Div/DJFHQ) – is proud of what his command achieved in 2016. The year marked the reinvigoration of HQ 1 Div/DJFHQ as a two-star-level headquarters trained to operate within a medium-intensity warfighting environment, with its return to Army’s premier exercise for the first time in seven years Carefully coordinated between 1 Div/DJFHQ and Forcomd (Forces Command), the Land 2016 construct saw the integration of a significant number of concurrent training activities at the unit and formation level under a common training umbrella, further reducing the cycle of training duplication and burden on personnel and equipment. The year also marked the development and first deployment of a fully digitised and functional major and minor Joint Task Force (JTF) HQ into the field. Exercise Vital Prospect, 1 Div/DJFHQ’s first major exercise of the year, led this new approach by integrating the Amphibious Task Group’s Exercise Sea Horizon and 1 Brigade’s Exercise Silicon Predator. Joined by significant elements from Socomd (Special Operations Command), Navy and Air Force, the

exercises were linked both physically and digitally, fusing formations and platforms under a common chain of command. This combined and digitised concept was then repeated successfully for Hamel. The result was a series of exercises that demonstrated interoperability and interconnectivity between services and formations rarely seen outside of the Talisman Sabre series, with a recognised land picture from the tactical to the divisional level that required minimal ‘air gapping’ across multiple systems. Major-General McLachlan said the combined-training approach and integration within the digital battle space resulted in a responsive, adaptive and agile force demonstrating a unified approach.



d y e h t t a h w , e r a y e Who th

and with four direct Ar my functional comm an is ng HQ JF /D Div 1 sbane, d the Combat Traini st Headquartered in Bri Signals Regiment an (1 d p). lan ou ns Gr ee ng Qu ini in d 30 Tra command units locate n) and Malaysia (2/ tions Support Battalio er to meet directed era ord Op in s (39 ce W for NS d e), ne sig as Centr d an mm co to /DJFHQ is The mission of 1 Div ts. en em uir req l operationa are: for HQ 1 Div/DJFHQ Operations; CA-specificed tasks of the Chief of Joint ort o-star pp su in ing nn rce pla ion) scalable up to tw • Lead Joint Task Fo ity (with augmentat bil pa ca Q ; FH nts DJ me jor on vir y en  rovide a minor or ma • P joint and interagenc ency erate in combined, conventional conting s, ce for s ou ibi level and able to op ph am ’s my Ar for authority signed by AHQ;  ct as the mounting • A ous ments when force as ele ce for l cation of the Amphibi na tio era and op velopment and certifi de ed nu nti co for d  ct as the Ar my lea • A Group; and, ining schedules. Amphibious Ready Trg Gp and 39OSB tra Ready Element and 30 2/ C, CT gt, Re ge 1 Sig  ommand and mana • C Q are: ective 2016; ks for HQ 1 Div/DJFH CA Preparedness Dir the CJOPS-specified tas th d, wi ce an rd co F in ac and and control; an  rovide a scalable JT • P ort amphibious comm pp su or the t th uc wi nd ce co an to rd nts acco  rovide force eleme • P gement objectives in Plan. d international enga an ational Engagement al ern ion Int reg my rt Ar po up the d • S an n Pla nt me al Engage Defence Internation


“The digitisation of the Vital series, Hamel and Northern Shield will be recognised as the beginning of smart exercises, through the use of a detailed and high-speed command, control, communication and computers, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance [C4ISR] capability,” he said. “1 Div/DJFHQ’s adoption of the LNIC-developed Mission Secret Network (a concept technology demonstrator) and the new Geospatial Environment for Command and Control Operations or GEC2O (pronounced ‘gecko’) system, provided the most detailed common operating picture ever seen by Army. “Through this consolidating network, 1 Div/DJFHQ’s JTF HQ was able to direct-feed information from the brigade level up to HQJOC and across to various platforms and capabilities. “A fully functional digital joint fires system was also fielded for the first time.

CONTACT Air Land & Sea – 2017 Yearbook

“This year’s exercises demonstrated the digital battle space is not some distant concept, but a deployable capability able to deliver fast, accurate information and massive situational awareness, which is crucial in winning the land battle.” Looking ahead to Talisman Sabre next year, Major-General McLachlan said this year’s achievements had placed 1 Div/ DJFHQ in a prime position to deal with a challenging 2017. “As we proceed through Exercise Polygon and into Talisman Sabre, 1 Div/DJFHQ, with assistance from 6 Brigade, will seek to further refine and exploit the use of the cyber battle space and redefine the way we as a force approach the fight, particularly with the integration and execution of amphibious and information operations.” “All of us are now charged to learn how to best employ these new capabilities. They are no longer future concepts and there is no reason the ADF should not be at the absolute forefront of innovative, digital and joint warfighting. “It’s an exciting time to be in the division.”

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C ommemorat i ng past hero ics

With WWI centenary commem orations progressing “1916 saw the conclusion of the into one of the bloodiest periods bloodshed at of the conflict, 1 Div/ Gallipoli and the beginning of DJFHQ continued its own ceremon a new level of carnage ies, pausing to never seen before,” Colonel Sca reflect on the sacrifice of those who nlan said. had gone before. “Among it all were the Australi Acknowledging 100 years from an divisions, led the arrival of the by the 1st, which suffered terrible Australian 1 Div to the Western casualties in the Front, personnel Dardanelles and on the Western from 1 Div/DJFHQ marked the Front. occasion in two “The centenary of the events at commemorative events at Gallipo Pozieres has added li Barracks, Brisbane. greater poignancy to 1 Div’s memorial Led by Commander 1 Div/DJF services, HQ Major-General providing troops with an even Paul McLachlan, staf f rededica greater opportunity to ted an Anzac tree on refle ct on the extraordinary history of the June 3, recognising the sacrifice headquarters of 566 Queenslanders since its formation in 1914.” who were killed in action or died from wounds and Colo nel disease during the Gallipoli cam Scanlan said 1 Div had develop ed a rich paign. narrative during its existence and On July 22, 1 Div/DJFHQ continu that its return to ed its Arm y’s raise, train sustain cycle, and its commemoration program, hon continuing lead ouring the division’s as DJFHQ, ensured its 102-year fallen in WWI on the eve of the history would continue. centenary of the Battle “Wit h its continuing support to operatio of Pozieres, with the unveiling of ns such as the a new memorial at one in Fiji earlier this year, the the headquarters, replete with return to greater Army, the evocative silhouette and its con of divisional troops at the third tinued lead in the developmen battle of Ypres. t of the ADF’s amphibious capability, the 1 Div historian Colonel Dennis Sca headquarters will nlan said 2016 no dou bt see us recognising milestones wel was a pivotal year for 1 Div/DJF HQ. l into the future,” Colonel Scanlan said.




Century of service Raised on August 15 1914 as part of the 1st Australian Imperial Force, 1 Div played a significant part in the Gallipoli campaign of 1915 before fighting on the Western Front. In its first major battle on that front in July 1916, soldiers of 1 Div captured the town of Pozieres at a cost of 5285 casualties. Over the next two-and-a-half years, the division would fight in the battles of Mouquet Farm, Bullecourt, Menin Road, Polygon Wood, Broodseinde, Poelcapelle, Passchendaele, Hazebrouck, Amiens, Albert and Epehy – with 20 1 Div members awarded the Victoria Cross. 1 Div was demobilised in March 1919, but re-raised as a Citizen Military Forces formation in 1921 and, while this militia status prevented it from deploying outside Australia for the duration of WWII, the division’s headquarters staff were transferred to New Guinea in 1942 as the command element of Milne Force, which, under Major-General Cyril Clowes, defeated a major Japanese amphibious assault at Milne Bay in 1942, delivering the first defeat of the Japanese on land during the war. The division was officially disbanded again in April 1945. In 1965, 1 Div was tasked with certifying the operational readiness of units deploying to Vietnam, and in 1973 HQ 1 Div moved from NSW to Enoggera, Brisbane. Throughout the 1980s and 1990s, HQ 1 Div personnel were deployed on United Nations peacekeeping operations in Namibia, Western Sahara, Cambodia, Somalia and Rwanda.


In 1997, HQ 1 Div assumed the additional task of providing the ADF with a two-star Deployable Joint Force Headquarters (DJFHQ) to command joint assets during large-scale operations in Australia and overseas. In 1999, DJFHQ constituted Headquarters International Force East Timor (INTERFET) and deployed to East Timor on September 20, 1999, on Operation Warden. HQ 1 Div/DJFHQ has since formed the core of a number of Joint Task Force HQ on humanitarian-assistance and disaster-relief operations throughout the region, including Plumbob (2000) and Anode (2003) in the Solomon Islands, Sumatra Assist (2005) and Padang Assist (2006) in Indonesia. In 2009, the division was restructured as part of the Adaptive Army initiative and its regular manoeuvre brigades, along with the majority of its direct command units, were reassigned to the newly formed Forcomd. HQ 1 Div became the Land Component to HQJOC and continued to maintain its short-notice command-and-control capabilities. In recent years, HQ 1 Div/DJFHQ has provided a JTF HQ for many domestic and regional operations, including Queensland Flood Assist (2011), Cathedral (2012) in Papua New Guinea, Philippines Assist (2013), Okra (2014) in Iraq, Hawick (2014) in The Hague and Ukraine, and Fiji Assist (2016). In 2012, Commander 1 Div/DJFHQ was jointly appointed by CA and Chief of Navy to act as the joint and Army lead authority to develop the ADF’s emerging amphibious capability.

1 Div/DJFHQ has the lead for developing the ADF’s amphibious capability, and 2016 was a year of positive progress. This year has been busy for Australia’s joint amphibious capability with the first operational deployment of the Australian Amphibious Ready Element (ARE) to cyclone-ravaged Fiji; in the largest multinational exercise in the Pacific, Exercise Rimpac; HMAS Adelaide’s commencement of the Sea Series of exercises and the completion of CH-47F first-of-class flight trials. It is a series of achievements that were realised through the joint efforts of key enablers representing the three services and Defence broadly, under 1 Div/DJFHQ as the capability lead. Colonel-in-Charge of Amphibious Capability and Development US Marine Corps Colonel Terence Dunne said 2016 had provided a diverse series of opportunities that thoroughly tested all aspects of Australia’s amphibious force. “This year has proven to be pivotal for Australia’s amphibious capability and has demonstrated the benefits and importance of joint development and sustainment,” Colonel Dunne said. “Operation Fiji Assist and the exercises undertaken provided a mix of short-notice, high-tempo tasks requiring bespoke solutions – and the results verified the scalability and flexibility of the ARE under the umbrella of the Australian Amphibious Force (AAF). “One just has to look at the achievements in 2016 and the advances made by the joint enablers to grasp the significant impact amphibious capability has had on the ADF.” The first major test for Australia’s amphibious capability and, in particular, the ARE was by the devastation wrought on Fiji by Tropical Cyclone Winston on 20 February last year. Comprising elements from Navy, Army and Air Force embarked in HMAS Canberra, the ARE left Brisbane five days later. Immediately on arrival in Fiji, the ARE began providing substantial humanitarian assistance and disaster relief (HADR), including the delivery of 341 tonnes of stores through a combination of rotary wing and sealift, and engineer support to beleaguered communities on the islands of Koro and Taveuni. The successful deployment of Canberra demonstrated the value of previous training and the seamless integration of the joint enablers was followed by Adelaide beginning its own certification process through the Sea Series of exercises. Command post exercise Sea Horizon (Sydney) and enabling exercise Sea Explorer (Cowley Beach, north Queensland) allowed Adelaide and the ARE to integrate lessons from the 2015 Sea Series

CONTACT Air Land & Sea – 2017 Yearbook

and on Operation Fiji Assist, and seamlessly execute combatenhancement training, force-integration training and wet and dry rehearsals for tactical amphibious assault, as well as integration of its elements. Adelaide’s exercise success was followed by the deployment of the Canberra-led AAF to Rimpac. With an embarked force from 2RAR, 2 Cav Regt, 10FSB, 1CHB and members of the New Zealand and Tongan defence forces, the AAF demonstrated Australia’s ability to conduct combined amphibious operations and confirmed the interoperability between Australia’s amphibious platforms and those of our US partners. The CH-53 Sea Stallion, V22 Osprey and Landing Craft Air Cushion (LCAC or hovercraft) were just some of the capabilities tested successfully with the Australian Landing Helicopter Dock, while the ARE and embarked foreign forces undertook joint and combined training with US land forces. Commander of the landing force and CO 2RAR Lieutenant-Colonel Michael Bassingthwaighte said the broad nature of the training and operational activities undertaken by the AAF in 2016 added valuable depth to the experience and skills of those supporting the amphibious capability. “A key component of the AAF’s success this year has been the experience gained on both the planned and short-notice activities the capability has supported,” Lieutenant-Colonel Bassingthwaighte said. “The AAF and, in particular, the ARE have had the opportunity to not only further develop their collective skills and interoperability with our US partners, but have put those skills into practice supporting real-time HADR to great effect.” Commander Amphibious Task Group (ATG) Navy Captain Brett Sonter said the successes of the ATG demonstrated the maturing of the capability and the wealth of knowledge amassed by the force since the start of 2015. “Undertaking the Sea Series of exercises in 2015 with Canberra was as much about forging new territory as it was about certifying the capability,” Captain Sonter said. “With the certification process shifting to Adelaide this year, the deployment of the ARE to support Fiji Assist and Rimpac, the development of Australia’s amphibious capability has realised significant growth and has achieved major milestones. “The foundation provided by that success has placed the ADF in a prime position to enable further achievements within the amphibious capability in 2017.”

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s ie t l a n io g e r s t s o o b t Triden

een Singapore and The latest bilateral exercise betw land’s central coast ens Que on up d Australia wrappe a great success. vity acti with both nations hailing the r to 4 November, obe Oct 27 from held ent, Exercise Trid re Armed apo Sing of c saw 1 Battalion of the Republi ards) conduct (Gu ade Brig ntry Infa n rea Forces’ 7 Singapo ons with rati ope e nsiv offe amphibious, air-mobile and 5RAR at the from ion sect t por sup tar mor a platoon and Shoalwater Bay Training Area. its annual Exercise Hosted by Singapore as part of development of the on Wallaby, the activity focused the two nations een betw y bilit era rop amphibious inte g activities and inin -tra field through a series of simulated . ons rati amphibious ope jor Jamie Heron 1 Div/DJFHQ representative Ma , had grown into tion itera d thir its in e, said the exercis ional partners, reg the a significant activity between tactics, techniques re sha to nce cha nt elle offering an exc nities for exercise ortu opp tify and procedures and to iden growth. ment, but it has “Trident is in continual develop ortant training activity imp an be to f itsel already shown rean Armed Forces,” apo for the ADF as it is for the Sing . Major Heron said

dily grown from “The ADF’s participation has stea n and disasteraria anit individual observers in a hum ent elem e forc d -size toon relief activity to a pla in a foundation ons rati ope ious phib am ting conduc warfighting environment. e are to develop it into “Future intentions for the exercis for both nations.” vity acti ning trai a joint amphibious a training ver While the primary focus is to deli top opportunity a as ent Trid see outcome, both nations militaries. both een to deepen the relationship betw the activity of hs ngt stre the of one Major Heron said Australia and re apo Sing was the foundation on which ties. tary mili er clos er had been able to fost rational aspects “The combined tactical and ope r, the strength eve how ; ious obv of the exercise are l cooperation iona reg in the activity is the enhanced jor Heron said. Ma ,” ions nat both een demonstrated betw ctionality fun mon com “Through the development of apore, Sing with ally ater unil rate and the ability to ope l iona reg r othe our we continue to demonstrate to d greater buil to ia tral Aus of ire des partners the genuine Asia and our readiness military ties across South-East any threat if and when to ond resp to work together to required.”

Significant engagement with Australian and international training elements and a series of successful exercises and activities have seen the Combat Training Centre (CTC) complete one of its busiest years yet. Responsible for ensuring high readiness and deploying forces are fully prepared for complex, operations, CTC focussed on providing commanders and forces across Army and the ADF independent performance monitoring and assessment. Commander of CTC Colonel Damian Hill, said the challenge for CTC during 2016 was the maintenance of high-tempo support to force preparation and force generation, while developing a modernisation strategy that ensured a training environment for forces with access to the full suite of ADF and coalition capabilities whether live, virtual or constructive. “Digitising the trainer is at the forefront of CTC’s modernisation pathway to ensure the centre can continue to provide accurate combat-performance assessment to commanders,” Colonel Hill said. The largest wing of the training centre, CTC-Live continued to deliver an environment for force-on-force, combined-arms training at the company/combat-team and battle-group levels, and maintained a focus on improving warfighting capability through challenging combat rotations, offering a unique service to Army. The result of Live’s efforts saw units conduct complex training events followed by immediate after-action reviews to enhance learning and improvement. Commanding Officer CTC-Live Lieutenant-Colonel Anthony Birch praised the dedication and professionalism of his officers and soldiers during the high-tempo year. “Successful planning, design and execution of four complex combined-arms and three mission-rehearsal exercises was only achieved through outstanding teamwork and commitment by the wing,” LieutenantColonel Birch said. “We continued to build the knowledge and experience of the team through an ongoing commitment to individual MEAO deployments and sending observer/ trainers on international exercises in Europe and the USA. “Live also continued modernisation efforts through the development of opposing-force equipment and weapons, new live instrumentation systems and innovation in observation, data collection and management.” CTC–Battle Command (BC), the smallest wing of the training centre, continued to deliver premiere training to operationally deploying headquarters, through challenging and robust command-post exercises (CPX). Commanding Officer BC Lieutenant-Colonel Spencer Norris said the planning, execution and observation of brigade and battalion HQs as they exercised their preparations to command and control their units in a complex, high-threat environment was most rewarding.” CONTACT Air Land & Sea – 2017 Yearbook

Trai ni ng “We are constantly getting better at integrating training units from various parts of the ADF,” he said. “2016 saw a significant step forward, with BC successfully integrating the Amphibious Task Group (ATG) headquarters CPX and the 1st Brigade CPX as a part of 1st Division/Deployable Joint Force Headquarters’ certification Exercise Vital Prospect 16. “We [BC] are already planning next year’s integrated exercise series Polygon 17, which will see the nesting of the ATG and 3rd Brigade headquarters CPX and the 1st Battalion, The Royal Australian Regiment’s live warfighter exercise in a true live, virtual and constructive exercise.” The Jungle Training Wing (JTW) of the training centre maintained its ongoing commitment to improving soldier skills and the standard of junior leadership within Army in a complex jungle environment, through its up-toplatoon level training program for sub-units and niche packages such as the Visual Trackers’ Course and the Junior Officers’ Jungle Operations Training (JOJOT) for the collective and individual. Officer Commanding JTW Major Trevor Brown said the wing’s location in far-north Queensland, and its outstanding program, maintained its position as one of the most physically and mentally challenging environments on offer to Australian and foreign forces. “The training year yet again reinforced the relevance of JTW with its demanding packages and training location in which to practice and underpin individual and collective warfighting skills,” Major Brown said. “Our programs continued to focus on the improvement of team cohesion, assisting small teams and tactical headquarters in preparing for the demands of combat operations in a complex jungle environment be they Australian or visiting foreign forces.” CTC’s support to international engagement was reflected in training delivered to a number of Australia’s regional partners in 2016, both domestically and overseas. Key training activities for JTW saw basic skills training delivered to the Timorese FFDTL in Timor and Australia, developing their jungle warfare capability and their junior leaders as instructors. The Indonesian TNI (Army) were also engaged by the JTW in Indonesia and Australia with a focus on providing a basic understanding of urban operations and closequarter shooting techniques as well was developing their junior leaders as instructors. Major Brown said the interactions with overseas forces proved to be a great opportunity to not only enhance the force under training, but enhance JTW’s product as well. “We view it as an exchange of ideas and approaches,” Major Brown said. “The training delivered from these interactions will enhance individual and collective warfighting skills and greatly contribute to Army’s capability to conduct

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offensive, defensive and stability operations in a complex environment. “JTW is also involved in an exchange program with the British Army Jungle Warfare Division in Brunei to share ideas, the development of our visual tracking capability and the professional development of JTW personnel who participate in their training as instructors.” The training wing has also recently re-established its relationship with the US 25th Infantry Division and hosted three of their jungle-operations course instructors`.

Major Brown said that this year’s international engagement activities provided an outstanding training and professionaldevelopment opportunity for all personnel involved. “Army is reclaiming and reinvigorating jungle operations training and leadership in a complex jungle environment,” Major Brown said. “For Australian and international-army participants, our activities are playing an important role in building relationships with our regional and coalition partners.”


Prepari ng t roops for ops With a resurgence in the number of significant operations involving the ADF, 39 Operational Support Battalion (39OSB) completed one of its busiest years in 2016. The unit, located at Randwick Barracks, Sydney, completed force preparation for more than 5000 personnel across the three services, supporting Operations Accordion, Okra, Highroad, Mazurka, Aslan and Paladin. CO 39OSB Lieutenant-Colonel Kimberlea Juchniewicz said the successful execution of the unit’s training schedule was credit to the dedication of her soldiers, sailors and airmen and the support of visiting lecturers. “One of the key factors in a successful deployment is the quality of preparation offered to our people,” she said. “Not empowering those we deploy to represent our nation with relevant knowledge can add unnecessary risk to an operation that goes beyond the individual and can affect the collective. “39OSB has been fortunate to have an excellent cadre representing Army, Navy and Air Force, as well as access to other members of Defence who have provided invaluable information for those deploying.”


With 33 courses conducted this year, 39OSB has delivered a variety of packages ranging from three days to three weeks to individuals and formed bodies. OPSO Major Tim Frankcombe said the range of operational requirements and force locations dictated critical analysis of the content and relevance of force preparation courses. “The unit has worked closely with HQJOC to refine course content and ensure it meets the requirement of the contemporary operational environment,” Major Frankcombe said. “The rapid changes that occur within the life of any operation mean material delivered by the OSB needs to be regularly reviewed for relevance.” This year the unit has prepared 2429 people for deployment to the Middle East region and 98 for deployment on United Nations operations. “The operation these members will deploy to will be either subtly or significantly different from the one entered into by their predecessors,” Major Frankcombe said. “2016 has seen a particular effort made to re-evaluate packages delivered with the result being a refined series of products that have been more efficiently conveyed. “In some cases a whole day has been taken off the length of the original course.”

39OSB has also invested significant time in requests and planning for redevelopment of existing facilities to ensure equipment issue is more efficient and training facilities are appropriate. The Kokoda Conference Centre has been redeveloped to enable lectures to be presented by video teleconference (VTC), in order to relieve staff from travelling to Sydney to present briefs. Lieutenant-Colonel Juchniewicz said the integration of digital technology had opened a number of opportunities for the delivery of training. “The expansion into VTC technology is reflective of the digitisation and modernisation that has been undertaken by 39OSB’s higher headquarters – 1 Div/DJFHQ,” LieutenantColonel Juchniewicz said. “We are sharing their digital epiphany and in doing so have opened up the training possibilities to prepare our deploying personnel. “Future participants in force preparation courses will benefit from the near unlimited possibilities posed by the integration of digital communications, making it possible to have access to deployed personnel, directly providing access to the most up-to-date information available.”

CONTACT Air Land & Sea – 2017 Yearbook

Learning from [i mmedi at e] past A little more than a centuary after George Santayana wrote, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it”, a 21st Century combat variant of that philosophy is underpinning the work of 1 Div/ DJFHQ’s Adaptive Warfare Branch (AWB) – ‘Success on operations favours those who learn and adapt fastest’. With an establishment of 20 personnel comprising mostly reserve members (many of them former unit commanders or RSMs), as well as regular Army and public servants, AWB is tasked with drawing out lessons from deployed forces and feeding these rapidly back into Army’s force generation and operational cycles. XO AWB Major Damien Richardson said the branch was a key enabler of the division’s ability to learn and adapt rapidly to changing conditions on operations. “While every ADF unit and sub-unit has a

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responsibility to conduct its own ongoing reviews of processes, and to test and adjust according to changing circumstances, we want to make sure these lessons are promoted as widely as possible, as soon as possible. “We achieve this through actively reading post-op reports, after-action reviews and post-activity reports, interviewing soldiers currently deployed and those returning, distilling the lessons and getting the message back into the force preparation cycle as soon as possible.” The lessons not only inform the way 1 Div/ DJFHQ trains, prepares and equips force elements for operations, by adjusting the force preparation conducted by the Combat Training Centre and 39OSB – both direct command units of 1 Div – but are fed

upwards to the Army-wide authority synchronising the process of gathering lessons and implementing them. “We work closely with the Centre for Army Lessons to ensure the learning outcomes get the exposure they should, to understand not only the things that didn’t work, but also the things that did,” he said. “This year, key activities for us included lesson collection activities for Task Group Taji, the Force Protection Element and Op Fiji Assist, with the latter providing valuable and timely feedback to Amphibious Capability Branch at a key point in the introduction of the Amphibious Force.” The breadth of AWB’s commitment to learning from the past can be seen in the range of in-house material it publishes to assist individuals and units prepare for deployment.


What’s in a Name?



and the pioneering of a capability 46

CONTACT Air Land & Sea – 2017 Yearbook

CONTACT published a web-site article titled “2RAR will cease to exist as a light infantry battalion” on 8 August 17 that described the Second Battalion, The Royal Australian Regiment (2RAR), transitioning from a standard infantry battalion (SIB) to a training organisation. This is incorrect. As a serving soldier in 2RAR (Amphibious) I have decided to take this opportunity to articulate to the readers of CONTACT what is happening in the unit and within the broader Australian Amphibious Force. The soldiers of 2RAR (Amphib) have been quietly working to build a world-class amphibious capability for the Australian Army, and I would like to explain that development, and what the battalion is like today.


(Amphibious) has a proud history as one of the premier warfighting organisations in the country, and as a highly capable infantry battalion. The unit will continue to operate as an infantry battalion, and is not disbanding. We will remain in Townsville, and will continue to be one of the founding battalions of the Royal Australian Regiment. We continue to train the skills required to operate as an SIB, and indeed are required to be able to operate as an SIB for Army should that be required. The units ability to perform as highly capable infantry soldiers is prided in the battalion, and was evident in a number of achievements this year, including winning the Duke of Gloucester Cup and achieving silver at the Cambrian Patrol in the UK. These competitions were conducted during a very busy year, which also included the Sea Series of exercises held with the Royal Australian Navy, the road to Talisman Sabre 2017, and the demonstration of the ANZAC Amphibious Ready Group, which was the largest Australian amphibious landing since World War Two. 2 RAR (Amphibious) has a culture of developing quiet professionals, and the achievements of the battalion this year in both amphibious and SIB roles are a reflection of the quiet, consistent hard work of its soldiers. The Second Battalion (Amphibious) has a standing mission to generate a combined-arms battle group that is capable of manoeuvring from the sea, as part of the Australian Amphibious Force (AAF). We achieve this by operating as the pre-landing force (PLF) for the ADF, setting the conditions to allow follow-on forces to come ashore and then fight and win the land battle. We set those conditions by mastering four core amphibious tasks – demonstrations, raids, assaults and withdrawals. This is demanding, as the soldiers of 2 RAR have been required to develop a new capability for the ADF. As a result of the previous five-year amphibious trial, we now have a world-class amphibious PLF that is interoperable with other elements of Army, Special Operations Command, the RAN and our international allies. Find, like, share on

While the battalion is not physically moving, it has changed in a number of ways. For most of its history, 2 RAR has been under the command of the 3rd Brigade and, as of 16 October 2017, 2 RAR is now under the command of the Amphibious Task Group (ATG) within the 1st Division. ATG is a tri-service organisation, and is uniquely commanded by a Navy captain as the Commander Amphibious Task Group, and an Army colonel as the Commander Landing Forces. As a unit optimised for amphibious operations, we have a close working relationship with the amphibious ships of the RAN, namely HMAS Canberra, Adelaide and Choules. Ship life is similar to regular barracks life, but with some significant advantages – soldiers are given additional situational awareness and exposure during mission planning, while also having the opportunity to train and rehearse while afloat on route to the area of operations. During Exercise Talisman Sabre this year, the unit was required to conduct a joint-force entry operation to seize a beach landing site for follow-on forces. My platoon was tasked to secure a helicopter-landing zone before D-day. The battalion’s reconnaissance platoon, specially trained in amphibious recon and deep battlespace shaping, was able to identify an enemy armour force of T-80 tanks defending it. Because of the high level of communications available on this ship, we were able to get very detailed information on the enemy and study the terrain in detail before going ashore. We were also able to seek subject-matter experts to help train us on enemy armour capabilities, vehicle recognition, anti-armour weapon drills and calling for fire support, all from the safety of the ship sitting over the horizon. We were then able to launch to conduct the mission from the sea, inserting soldiers who were not fatigued, had prepared their equipment specifically for the task, and were supported by joint assets within the AAF. Following the joint-force entry operation, we were regrouped under the command of 3rd Brigade, and performed joint land combat as an SIB. We conducted a number of combat-team and battle-group attacks,

air-mobile operations with 5th Aviation Regiment and the US Marine Corps, urban clearances with 2nd Cavalry Regiment, and a combined-arms brigade attack. It demonstrated the battalion’s agility in moving from specialised amphibious actions, to deep reconnaissance to support the brigade or division, to close combat as an infantry battle group. From 2018, 2 RAR will adopt a new structure that reflects our role as an optimised pre-landing force. The new order of battle will see the establishment of a rifle company with integral small-boat insertion capability, who will have additional skills to support their likely missions including direct fire support weapons, helicopter insertion and extraction techniques, and advanced small-craft operating techniques. The battalion will also establish an intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) company which will have dedicated reconnaissance patrols and sniper 47


detachments who are highly trained for amphibious recon and precision strike, small boat operators, signallers, and a joint-fires team to coordinate ground and air fires in the amphibious operating area. These elements will be supported by an administration company and battalion headquarters, similar to the other battalions of the RAR. In addition, 2RAR will see a reinforcement from an army reserve company that will specialise in riverine operations, and provide training support to specialist courses. The new structure gives flexibility to task-organise the PLF depending on mission and threat, and enables rapid movement and decision-making. The PLF typically consists of a command node, a number of rifle platoons, amphibious reconnaissance patrols, snipers, small boats, a joint-fires team and signals detachment. All of these elements are organic to 2RAR, and will be supported by electronic-warfare teams, clearance divers, amphibious beach teams and naval 48

hydrographic survey teams. The PLF will take over from special forces and provide reconnaissance and shaping of the battlespace, to introduce a landing force ashore. The transition of 2RAR to an optimised amphibious unit requires specialist skills, expertise and personnel. Soldiers in 2RAR (Amphibious) need to be fit, composed, innovative and willing to do what is required to achieve the mission. We don’t have the luxury of ‘crawl’ and ‘walk’ phases – the tempo is high and we need to seek excellence in everything we do from our first day of service in the unit. We will also need to have a range of specialist skills to support the unique and often demanding requirements of the PLF role. A perfect illustration of this is the small boats capability, with 2RAR set to maintain a fleet of 36 smallboat systems (FC-470s, multi-fuel engines, associated specialist equipment). Designed to enable the undetected insertion of PLF elements, 2RAR small boats

require specialist training, expertise and techniques to be employed safely and effectively. To operate small boats, soldiers need to complete the advanced small craft operations (ASCO) course, a challenging course that was originally inherited from SOCOMD but has been tailored specifically for the PLF role. Upon completion, soldiers will be expert in the preparation, operation and maintenance of 2RAR small-boat systems in the surf zone, rocky ledges and riverine environments, by day and night and in a range of sea conditions. They will be capable of planning and executing over-the-horizon insertion/extraction by night, parent-craft operations and limited-scale raids. Each ASCO course culminates with several demanding full-mission profiles by night, bringing all these skills together. 2RAR (Amphibious) personnel will also need to be qualified in advanced helicopter-underwater-escape training and helicopter-insertion and -extraction CONTACT Air Land & Sea – 2017 Yearbook

techniques (HIET). In addition to this, 2018 will see all members of the unit become helicopter-casting qualified. This involves the insertion of swimmers from the back of a CH-47 rotary-winged platform. This capability will evolve into the insertion of FC-470 Zodiacs and troops from the back of the rotary-winged platform, which will create significant flexibility in the way we insert our troops to land. As an infantry battalion, manned by RAINF personnel, 2RAR (Amphibious) will also conduct the normal suite of support-company specialist courses that are the hallmark of all RAR battalions. However, the unit will seek to take these specialist capabilities to the next level, ensuring that they reflect the additional demands and complexity requirements associated with delivering world-class PLF effects. This will ensure that the AAF has a highly trained and capable PLF that is able to set the conditions for the landing force to come ashore and complete their tasks. It also Find, like, share on

ensures 2RAR (Amphibious) retains the ability to force concentrate to conduct high-intensity war fighting as a light-infantry battle group. During Exercise Talisman Sabre 2017 a gap in the ISR space was identified between the special-forces reconnaissance and regular-battalion reconnaissance. The Second Battalion will look to bridge that gap, by conducting divisional reconnaissance tasks, with the battalion moving deeper into the land-force area of operations in support of deep ground reconnaissance. There will be no conventional unit more capable of conducting multi domain operations than 2RAR, and we will do this while maintaining a state of constant high readiness. A bright future lies ahead for the Second Battalion (Amphibious). We have reached many milestones and have succeeded in delivering a world-class PLF. To be a soldier who is part of something this size instils a phenomenal feeling that far outweighs any challenges that come with the change in the role.

To be able to see your inputs being implemented and, as your influence on the capability unfolds, it fills you with a strong sense of pride and satisfaction. After a year of really strong performances from the soldiers of 2RAR this year, the morale and culture in the battalion is healthy and the soldiers have the quiet confidence and determination necessary take this capability to the next level. As anyone who has served in 2RAR knows well, the unit’s true identity remains constant and unwavering. 2RAR is comprised of quiet, composed, fit, adaptable and humble men and women who let their actions speak louder than their words and who get the job done. 2RAR will be there to deliver either a pre-landing force or an infantry battalion, when the Army requires, that will always remain...

Second to None 49

2RAR dominates DoG Cup

Words and photos by Corporal Max Bree, ARMY newspaper

Singleton range appears from the darkness in the blue light of the Army’s new night-vision devices as sections from each battalion of the Royal Australian Regiment battled for the coveted Duke of Gloucester Cup in August. Rifle and machine gun fire breaks an eerie 2.30am silence at the urban-ops training facility as a fireteam suppresses enemy forces hiding in a darkened building. A second team stacks up next to the entrance and places a breaching charge, while laser dots from their mates’ night-aiming devices dance over the building in search of targets. 50

An explosion tears the door away and soldiers move in to clear out the enemy. Shouting and gunfire continue as soldiers move through the building’s many levels, engaging enemy they easily see through the blue-tinged light of their night-vision equipment. A pair of captured enemy are man-handled to a second-floor outdoor area to be searched for intelligence value as the section posts security and continues the mission. They will soon be back at their defensive position, after sunrise, to continue digging and putting out barbed wire.

Central NSW sunshine was never going to be much use to this year’s DoG Cup competitors after activity OIC Major Russell Thomas, a US Army officer posted to the School of Infantry, saw the Australian Army’s latest night-fighting equipment. “I thought it would be a great opportunity to let the soldiers use the equipment and put a different twist on the event,” Major Thomas said. He and lead planner WO2 Dwayne Kent designed this year’s competition to test soldier skills during limited visibility. “You have a marked advantage over an adversary at night,” Major Thomas said. CONTACT Air Land & Sea – 2017 Yearbook

“It’s easier to surprise an enemy and amass combat “There’s always a little bit of rivalry, but whenever power in ways you can’t during the day. I’d go for platoon orders, I’d chat to the other secos and “But to operate in that environment you have to be they all seemed pretty relaxed. comfortable doing all things at night. “It wasn’t until the last morning on the obstacle course “I wanted to see how well these soldiers could do where the guys really set out to beat the other teams. that.” “We thought we’d done well in a few things but were Competitors were first lulled into a daytime routine never 100 per cent sure. with combat shooting, live-fire attacks and DFSW “We were feeling pretty nervous until the ceremony accuracy contests on the first day. and the boys were very excited when the winners They were then kept awake with four full nights of were announced.” complex operations, dealing with challenges such as Apart from the overall title, 2RAR also picked up urban assaults, a chemical-warfare lane, quick attacks trophies for best foundation warfighting and best and observation-post duties. overall shooting, with Corporal Kiernan named best “We definitely wanted to make fatigue a factor,” individual soldier and best section commander. Major Thomas said. “The soldiers still moved between 80 to 100km during the competition, but the fatigue, the difficulty in finding sleep, made it every bit as tiring as putting on a pack and continually stomping around in the woods.” Dusk-’til-dawn night ops tested sections over five days, and sunrise brought little relief, with soldiers ‘digging-in’ at a defensive position during daylight hours. Leading the lads from 2RAR was sniper and four-time DoG Cup veteran Corporal Liam Kiernan. “In past years it was ops during the day and you’d be digging all night, but this year they turned it on its head,” Corporal Kiernan said. 1st 2RAR “It depends on the enemy picture, but we often nd 1RAR 2 operate at night because it gives us a distinct rd advantage.” 7RAR 3 Corporal Kiernan said operations were definitely th 3RAR 4 made easier by the new night-fighting equipment, th which many soldiers hadn’t used before. 5 8/9RAR “I rate them pretty highly,” he said. th 6RAR 6 “I doubt we could have worked as well as we did if th we had the older ones. 7 5RAR “Because they’re so light, we didn’t fatigue as much and you get really good clarity through the optics. “We were also lucky to have the extra luminance of a full moon.” He said things started to get tricky when the section arrived at a ‘forward operating base’ around midnight to help organise a local security force. Ghurkha Trophy for Sir Arthur MacDonald “We had to train them and provide security while best section Trophy for best section locals were being inquisitive and insurgents were probing. overall shooting foundation warfighting “Then things escalated and we had to use population1st – 2RAR 1st – 2RAR control techniques.” 2nd – 1RAR 2nd – 5RAR Such complex and relentless night missions quickly rd took their toll on competing sections also testing how 3 – 3RAR 3rd – 1RAR well they managed fatigue. “It got pretty hard to focus on what you were doing – you had to be careful not to drift off into your thoughts,” Corporal Kiernan said. “It was a bit of a shock, but the boys knew it was only OSCMAR Trophy for DSM Roche CSC going to last for a week, so they put in a huge effort and made sure things were done to the best of their Memorial Cup for best endurance abilities.” best individual soldier 1st – 1RAR Despite long-running rivalry between battalions, 1st – Cpl Liam Kiernan, 2RAR 2nd – 2RAR Corporal Kiernan said competitiveness didn’t really kick nd in until the end. 2 – Pte Tom Florence, 2RAR 3rd – 8/9RAR


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2017 Duke of Glouster Cup Overall Standings





CONTACT Air Land & Sea – 2017 Yearbook

leadi ng the charge on new equi pme nt fight ing phi losophy and gender barriers To seek out and close with the enemy, to kill or capture him, to seize and hold ground and to repel attack by day or night, regardless of season, weather or terrain  So goes the traditional and long-held defif inition of the role of the Royal Australian Infantry Corps. Yet, over the past 75, 50 or even the more recent 15 years (since I left the full-time army, technology and politics, equipment and societal expectations have evolved beyond the imagination of whomever it was who penned those words. So, in 2017, does the modern infantry battalion look anything like the battalions of old? CONTACT recently visited the ‘The Big Blue One’ – the 1st Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment – to find out... Find, like, share on


The defined role of infantry implies that our ‘foot soldiers’ are the major combat element of the Army, demanding high standards of mental and physical toughness, esprit de corps, determination and warfighting skills from soldiers and officers alike. As such, to say that infantry soldiers are fit is an understatement. In fact, outside the realm of ‘special forces’, there is surely no other collective group of that size who are fitter, tougher and more resilient than an infantry battalion [and I’ll come back to size and makeup later]. When I visited 1RAR in June, they had just completed a week of warfighting exercises in High Range Training Area, north of Townsville, which saw the whole group walk/march/patrol more than 100km in the seven days before I got there, interspersed by periods of fighting in both open and urban terrain – followed by another 25km march that culminated in an energysapping, adrenalin-pumping, brigade-sized live-fire attack – with enough energy left over to smile and joke on the march off the battlefield. So who are these people? Young, for the most part – and smart. Yes – there’s the first big difference between today’s infantry soldier and his predecessor. While entry-level education officially remains at Year 10 minimum, most infantry soldiers today, I was told, have finished Year 12 in school and a sizable number already have university degrees, are studying for a degree while serving or go straight to university when they’ve done their minimum four-years service. And there’s another difference – infanteering for four years is more and more commonly seen as a ‘gap adventure’ than a long-term career for young men and women, with only those who achieve promotion in their minimum four years tending to stick around. And, yes – I did say women. 1RAR currently has seven female riflemen and two female platoon commanders. But that’s not a big deal in 1RAR. Truly. Commanding Officer 1RAR Lieutenant Colonel Benjamin McLennan said the female infantry soldiers and officers in 1RAR achieved the same physical and mental requirements during basic infantry training as their male colleagues and they are required to maintain the same expert skills and fitness as all infantry soldiers and officers in 1RAR. “I do not perceive them as female infantry soldiers and officers; I view them as infantry soldiers and officers – and, based on their performance in 1RAR, very competent and professional ones,” Lieutenant Colonel McLennan said.


And my observations on the ground bear this out, with male and female soldiers sitting around the same brew point, hanging the same shit on each other without fear, favour or ill will. And, in private conversation, I could draw no male soldier into saying a single bad word about the females in their ranks. And that was about all that was said or could be drawn on the subject of females in infantry – it was a non-issue – it is now a fact of life. 1RAR is also a shining example of another major and key difference between an infantry battalion past and the infantry battalion of today – technology. You may remember CONTACT’s series on ‘New Military Equipment’ that started in issue 47, September 2015, authored in part by Lieutenant Colonel Benjamin McLennan who was then a senior officer in Defence equipment procurement – and is now the commanding officer of 1RAR, which is now using the new equipment in the field.

“It was very satisfying to play a part in developing and introducing the significant enhancement in close-combat capability offered by our Army’s new equipment,” Lieutenant Colonel McLennan said. “In my view, this equipment has substantially increased the lethality, survivability, mobility, sustainability and situational awareness of our infantry, and all-corps soldiers, officers, teams. “Indeed, following the rollout of EF-88 and its stateof-the-art ancillaries, Light Weight Automatic Grenade Launcher, Soldier Combat Ensemble, Australian MultiCam Uniform and enhanced night-fighting equipment, I can say with confidence that we are the bestequipped Army in the world today. “Furthermore, I can say with a sense of confidence that our new equipment has the potential to evolutionise how we train and fight such that we can achieve a decisive combat advantage over any adversary. “The transformation in a few short years has been profound.

CONTACT Air Land & Sea – 2017 Yearbook

“And, with four major projects valued at well over $2billion in the pipeline, we are well poised to maintain our decisive combat advantage, enabled by our leading edge in equipment, into the future.” Now, some of you might be thinking, ‘well of course he’s going to say that – but what do the soldiers think?’ Having been there and spoken to many of them in the field, I can categorically say that the guys with their hands grasped around the trigger guards, their focus fixed through night-vision goggles and their feet sore from all that walking, wholeheartedly agree with their commanding officer – though they express their enthusiasm for the equipment slightly differently. I met a warrant officer I’ve known for years, during an admin break at Line Creek Junction, Townsville’s impressive urban-operations village and, after ‘long-timeno-see’ banter, I asked this shooting-guru mate if the new EF-88 was as good as the brochures and hype say it is. Instantly, his eyes lit up. Not only was this a topic he was enthused about, but this was a weapon he was more than willing to fawn over. “Man, this is bloody brilliant – check this out…” and proceeded to talk me through, almost breathlessly, all the features he knew I’d appreciate – the scope with its ‘proper’ range markings and its selectable 1x and 4x zoom (“unlike that stupid doughnut idea we used to have to work around” – highlighting how much things have changed in the short 15 years I’ve been out) – the foregrip with built-in bipod – the bolt-release catch next to the magazine (which he thought was brilliant) – the Picatinny rails with so much room for accessories. As we spoke, we were standing close to where a CO’s orders group had just finished, so my warrant officer friend took the opportunity to highlight several weapons that were accessorised different to his – scopes set further forward for customised eye relief, laser aiming devices in different placements, laser range finders, torches, nightvision scopes and thermal-imaging scopes. Some rifles were also painted in various patterns while some remained the standard matt black. The variety and customisation seemed endless. Then, just in case I wasn’t taking his word for how good the gear was, my warrant officer friend enlisted support from a nearby captain. Equipment? Eyes light up! “For me the best bit of kit is the night-vision goggles,” he enthused. “These things are bloody awesome. “We even have depth perception with these new ones – so much so, I’d have no hesitation sprinting from here to there in the dark and vaulting that fence on the way. “In moonlight with these things it’s like operating at noon on a sunny day – you can see everything – even in the shadows.

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A POTTED HISTORY The 1st Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment – 1RAR – was officially raised on 12 October 1945 – though at that time it was known as the 65th Battalion of the 34th Australian Infantry Brigade, drawn from elements of 7th Division. The new battalion’s first assignment was to post-war Japan where it guarded the Imperial Palace in Tokyo, among other places, conducted training and played a lot of sport. In November 1948, the 65th Battalion sailed for Sydney and moved into lines at Ingleburn, where, within weeks, it was redesignated 1st Battalion, Australian Regiment, with Royal assent granted in January 1949. It wasn’t long before the new battalion earned its first battle honours and suffered its first casualties, in Korea in 1952-53, with 34 members killed and 107 wounded. On return to Australia, the battalion was housed at Enoggera. 1RAR again deployed to Korea in 1954 but, with the war over, the battalion spent its time improving defensive lines and camps, training, parades and sport, before returning to Brisbane in April 1956. Following a frustrating 18-month campaign in Malaya from November 1959 to October 1961, 1RAR moved to Holsworthy in Sydney and expanded its strength to around 1300 members in a short-lived experiment that saw infantry, artillery, armour, engineers, aviation and logistics brought together under infantry command. This early combined-arms battle group experiment was abandoned in 1965 and the over-sized 1RAR was split to spawn 5RAR. Vietnam followed with 1RAR again bloodied in 1965-66 – losing 23 KIA and 130 wounded – and again in 1968-69 – with 31 KIA and 165 WIA. Shortly after Vietnam the battalion moved to Townsville, where it remains today, and operations in Somalia (1993) and East Timor (2000-01 and 2003) followed. Since 2003, 1RAR has also deployed many members to Iraq, Afghanistan, East Timor, Solomon Islands and Tonga. 55

“We absolutely own the night right now like never before.” This was bourn out when I later spoke to a soldier who had played enemy the night before, when he told me, “It was totally disconcerting to see how fast 1RAR came down on us last night – no hesitation, no feeling for their steps in the dark – it was just like a daylight assault. It was surreal, even scary”. I spoke to other soldiers about their equipment, out of earshot of any officers, giving them the opportunity to ‘bag the shit’, or whinge about this or that, as Aussie soldiers are infamously known to do. Not one of them did. The closest I came was when one soldier said the side-hinged kidney rests on his plastic fieldpack carrier had broken at the lower joint, twice – but this was

acknowledged as an initial design flaw that has since been rectified and replacements made. Other than that, every soldier reflected the reaction of my warrant officer friend when I asked about equipment – eyes lit up, followed by an enthusiastic rant on their favourite piece – which, most often, started with night vision, closely followed by their rifle. And, ranting about an awesome rifle is surely the biggest difference between the infantryman today versus almost any-era predecessor. There was one other time I thought I might get some diggers to have a whinge. I lobbed into a section harbour in the middle of chow and chinwag and asked for four volunteers to participate in a setup urban assault for a video – with full kit and cam cream etc etc.


The lights in this photo were red, not white. Red looks poxy in a colour photo, but turns to white in black-and-white.


As expected, there was no enthusiasm – so the secco was forced to voluntold four blokes to kit up. The scenario I wanted to set up included another new piece of kit I had been told about – Throwbots – small, plastic, wheeled robots you can literally throw through a door or a window to see what’s inside a building before you enter. To add to the potential for whinging, none of my four voluntolds had even heard of a throwbot, much less thrown or operated one. They didn’t even know that their platoon sergeant had been issued with one. Anyway, we not-so-merry few trudged from the company harbour in the long speargrass, up the road to Line Creek Junction and found a building not being used – and out of eye-line of anyone who might laugh at the boys. The voluntolds discuss how they might employ the unfamiliar throwbot – and then I tell them the ‘best bit’ of my requirements. “Because this is for video and because I’ll want several different angles, you’ll have to run through the scenario several times!” I said, fearing the consequences. And so we spent the next hour or so of what should have been chow time assaulting one little room more than a dozen times. “Cut. That’s a wrap. I’ve always wanted to say that,” I said, hoping my humour would not be mistaken for sarcasm and hoping I wouldn’t be lynched. Their actual reaction was a little surprising – “AAW! Maybe we can do it a couple more times in a different room to see what else this thing can do.” And that’s where I left them – enthusiastic, professional, self-teaching. On my final night out bush in High Range, where I felt completely at home thanks to familiar territory and the warmth of 1RAR’s hospitality, I slept in my ex-RAEME, semi-comfy swag on a hilltop overlooking a magnificent, picturesque and serenely quiet valley – while 1RAR and a formidable combined-arms combat brigade crept ever closer through the darkness, unseen but all seeing. In the morning, another long stomp and the lessons of all recent training culminated in a brigade-sized live-fire attack, with all the new equipment, weapons and brigade assets – and a ‘shit-tonne of ammunition’, which saw ‘total annihilation’ brought down on a hapless enemy. I’ve seen live-fire attacks before, but never this close – or this big. M1 Abrams main battle tanks, M113AS4 armoured personnel carriers, M777 155mm medium guns, 84mm Carl Gustav anti-armour, tripod-mounted .50cal machine guns and 40mm grenade launchers (automatic machine-gun-type and under-barrel single-shot from soldiers’ rifles) and literally hundreds of EF-88s, fighting together, orchestrated in a combined-arms team.

CONTACT Air Land & Sea – 2017 Yearbook

The pace, noise and percussion sent adrenaline coursing through my veins – and I was only observing! There’s just no way I can convey the awesomness of this attack in words – so luckily I had a video camera rolling!

Some soldiers told CONTACT they were more accurate at night, thanks to the laser aiming device.

SIZE AND MAKEUP Getting back to the size and makeup of Australia’s infantry battalions – I might just lay out the facts and figures as Lieutenant Colonel McLennan explain them to me. “The evolution we are going through right now is, in fact, an enhancement on the revolutionary change to Army we achieved through Plan Beersheba. “In essence, Plan Beersheba established a unified, consistent force-generation cycle and created ‘like’ combat brigades – noting the ACR in 7 Brigade won’t be complete until around 2018. “It also forged a much closer relationship between the ARA and GRes reinforcing battlegroups, where the ARA and GRes infantry work more closely than ever before. “It enabled all soldiers and officers in each combat brigade to share similar combined-arms training and experiences. “It centralised the command-and-control of Army’s specialist logistics (17 Bde), aviation (16 Bde) and engineering/joint fires/intelligence (6 Bde). “It changed Army’s ‘unit of action’ from the battle/ battalion group to the ‘combat brigade’. “Finally, it reintroduced a conventional warfighting, combined-arms focus to Army.” Lieutenant Colonel McLennan said that, going forward, infantry as a corps would see significant further changes to reflect the new realities post Plan Beersheeba, with the individual battalions evolving thus… a. From October this year, 2RAR will transition to a specialist infantry unit responsible for training high-calibre prelanding forces for amphibious operations. They will not have rifle companies; yet they will retain security and support-company capabilities. They will also be the only infantry unit with specialist small-boat platoons. b. From October 2017, the infantry ground-combat element (GCE) of the amphibious ready element (ARE) landing force will be provided by the ready battlegroup (RBG). The RBG GCE will be certified ‘amphibious competent’ before assuming ‘ready’ responsibilities. c. By January 2018, 5RAR and 8/9RAR will be equipped with a fleet of organic Bushmaster PMVs, and 6RAR and 7RAR will be equipped with a fleet of organic M113AS4 APCs. d. By January 2019, 1RAR will be equipped with a fleet of organic PMVs and 3RAR will be equipped with a fleet of organic APCs – which means that by January 2019, each combat brigade will have one infantry battalion with organic PMVs and one with APCs.

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Photo digitally altered to remove distracting background and add the laser beam, which is usually only visible in dust , smoke or mist.


e. F  rom mid to late 2018, the battalions with organic PMVs will also begin to receive Hawkei PMV-L. f. The APC-enabled battalions will receive the eventual LAND 400 Phase 3 infantry fighting vehicle. g. As the battalions transition, surveillance sections will be reinvested to create larger and more reconnaissance patrols. h. DFSW platoons will be renamed anti-armour platoons.

TRANSITION Lieutenant Colonel McLennan said RAInf’s transition was an exciting, dynamic event which would see significant second- and third-order changes to training, equipment and facilities. “I think it is also important to note that the role of the infantry – ‘to seek out and close with the enemy, to kill or capture him, to seize and hold ground and to repel attack by day or night, regardless of season, weather or terrain’ – is enduring. “While it is likely the APC-enabled battalions will routinely command, fight from or with their vehicles, the PMV-enabled battalions will not – they will employ their vehicles to ‘close with’ their objectives in a protected platform. “As such, the PMV- and APC-enabled battalions will not be classified ‘motorised’ or ‘mechanised’. “It’s also important to note that all battalions – except 2RAR – will continue to rotate through RBG (ready battlegroup) and operational duties in accordance with the combat brigade forcegeneration cycle and that a rifle company from the RBG will force-generate to meet ARE GCE (amphibious ready element, ground-combat element) responsibilities. “All battalions, irrespective of their organic vehicle platform, must maintain expertise in dismounted, airmobile and combined-arms TTPs (tactics, techniques and procedures) and skills.” Yet even these are still evolving.

EVOLVING TTPS 1RAR has developed and continues to adapt several new philosophies and initiatives that might just raise a few eyebrows in the ‘back-inmy-day’ brigade.


‘Fight light’ is a simple yet profound change to the way a typical infantry battalion used to operate (and many still do). WWI British General John Fuller, who was also a prolific writer on the art of war, said, “The soldier cannot be a fighter and a pack animal at one and the same time, any more than a field piece can be a gun and a supply vehicle combined. The idea is wrong at the start. Yet it is always being repeated.” 1RAR is attempting to break that repetitive mould with its ‘fight light’ philosophy that sees soldiers carrying only the equipment required for the foreseeable future or impending mission and as can be supported by trusted, trained and empowered organic logistic systems. What does that really mean? As one soldier told me, “We sometimes march all night, but with no packs and no back armour plates, which will be waiting for us at the form-up point about 6km from the objective”. “We did that the other night and we got to the form-up point ages ahead of the Marines – and when they eventually came in, bending over under the weight of everything they own, there was some load of cursing going on,” he said. “It makes sense. We only carry enough food and water and equipment that we might need on the march and everything else is waiting for us to bomb up before the big attack.” Lieutenant Colonel McLennan said it was a simple and sensible concept, but far from simple in execution. “Attempting to minimise the soldier’s load is not a new endeavour. “But, while improvements in equipment have reduced the weight of individual items, soldiers have been carrying more and more items of equipment, negating the weight savings. “So, what we’re doing with ‘fight light’ is taking the load off their backs and only asking them to carry what they actually need for the task at hand. “We have broken equipment down to ‘mandatory equipment’, which is always carried unless specifically ordered otherwise; ‘on-order’ which is not carried unless specifically ordered and which is held in A1 or A2 echelons until ‘called forward’; and, ‘ready equipment’, which is maintained in ready condition but held in storage.

CONTACT Air Land & Sea – 2017 Yearbook

MY ESCORT “This all relies heavily on individual and collective discipline, constantly seeking ways to improve equipment carriage and layout, highly trained fighting and logistics echelons and a high level of trust and mutual understanding between the fighting and the logistic echelons.” Lieutenant Colonel McLennan said a lot of 1RAR’s new thinking came down to science. “Scientist, author and communicator Carl Sagan said ‘we live in a society exquisitely dependent on science and technology, in which hardly anyone knows anything about science and technology’. “Well, the 1st Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment, has taken Sagan’s observation further with the mantra ‘we ignore the science underpinning our profession at our peril’. “Our focus on the science underpinning infantry tactics, techniques and procedures has manifested in professional-development programs that have focused and continue to focus on the science of load carriage, the science of ballistics and terminal effects, the science of signature management, the science of how people learn best, and, the science of creating tactical athletes. “In each of these areas, 1RAR is taking advantage of the work undertaken by Defence scientists and experts. “We are not seeking to create scientists, or pseudo scientists in 1RAR. “Rather, we are seeking to understand as much as we can about our profession, enabling us to fight smarter, not just harder, than the enemy. “Fundamentally, we are seeking to think deeply about our profession at the tactical level, using this knowledge to be better than any adversary. “In my mind, this is what professionals do, in any discipline or field – seeking to be better – seeking to be the best – and not being constrained by our past.”

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and vehicle for my I was assigned a driver/escort visit to High Range. Control in the Private Dan met me at Range ne’ for the next CO’s Landcruiser, which was ‘mi it was too, with four days. And damn handy top and multiple cigarette lighter to keep my lap battery sets charged. was under all It was hard to tell how old Dan armour and chest the cam cream, helmet, body between today’s webbing (another big difference , safe to say, he soldiers and yesteryear’s) – but was at least half my age. d to be a chippie Dan eventually told me he use the army, which he in civvie street before joining d to find a job that did because it was pretty har paid well as a chippie. in 6RAR and “My old man and uncle were , so I thought I’d reckoned it was an alright job our second day give it a go,” Dan said, well into ced him to stop together, after I finally convin calling me sir. he said. “And this job is pretty cruisy,” h all the walking “Sure we work damn hard wit but aside from and stuf f when we’re out here, with good that, you’re always hanging out lly back in mates, having a laugh – especia base.”

years, yet still Dan’s been in infantry for two , and doesn’t bie considers himself a ‘lid’ or new n. soo e expect that to change any tim loyment dep a on Dan is very keen to be sent it was if fer pre – any deployment – but would as role of sort ‘outside the wire’ in a ‘full-on’ no had He . like opposed to mentoring or the r. eve delusions about the risks, how es in training, “I’ve been ‘shot’ a couple of tim easily that how which really brought it home g. could happen in the real thin first-grade team “But we’d all rather play for the picked for any ting than the B team – but then, get ning squad.” trai the game is better than staying in s lit up. Eye . ent I asked Dan about his equipm s to wa int’ pla Dan likes his rifle. His only ‘com cam tom cus his ng wonder how he’d go removi . paint for a ceremonial parade – lightweight and He loved the new helmet too – “way better s with Picatinny rails on the side rines still have”. Ma than the older style, which the n goggles – isio He also loved the new night-v brilliant for ess, htn light weight, adjustable brig ts or flashes. ligh ht driving and no flare from brig and they m the h He said he could easily run wit d. didn’t flop around on his hea er the brightness “On a bright night, you can low l light, to rea the of the NVGs to nearly match some extra e hav maintain your night vision and you want.” if s, side peripheral awareness out the of CONTACT rd hea er Dan confessed he had nev Just kidding. t. tha r afte magazine. We didn’t speak

Private Dan Cunington (left) and CO 1RAR Lieutenant Colonel Benjamin McLennan at the culmination of a major live-fire assault – and a very long week of intensive training.



CONTACT Air Land & Sea – 2017 Yearbook

ore than 20 nations participated in Exercise Flintlock 17 in Niger, Africa, earlier this year – including operators from Australia’s Special Operations community. The annual training get-together is a Special Operations exercise with more than 2000 participants from across Africa, Europe, North America and Australia. The three-week exercise began in 2005 and has grown to include police, border protection services and academia, and is aimed at increasing safety and security in Africa while strengthening government institutions, promoting multilateral sharing of information and developing interoperability among partner nations of the Trans-Sahara Counter-Terrorism Partnership (TSCTP). With approximately 2000 military and support staff in attendance, Chadian Brigadier General Zakaria Ngobongue, the Flintlock exercise director, welcomed the guests from the various countries. Other countries also hosting training events included Niger, Burkina Faso, Morocco, Tunisia, Cameroon and Mauritania. This was the second time Chad has hosted the Flintlock series of exercises, this year focusing on skills such as small-unit tactics, medical evacuations, and desert survival. The exercise helps build the capabilities of the key African partners as well as promote regional cooperation and interoperability. US Army Brigadier General Donald C Bolduc, commander of Special Operations Command Africa, said the challenge in front of every nation represented on Flintlock was the spread of violent extremism and how they would work together to stop illicit organisations. “Flintlock isn’t the beginning of our cooperation – this training is how we solidify our cooperation and ensure we are ready for the future,” Brigadier General Bolduc said. “Confronting the volatile, uncertain future is not a task we take on alone – we are all in this together.” Brigadier General Ngobongue said the environment was plagued with insecurity and this exercise was an added value and a great opportunity for his special forces to benefit from the shared training of participating nations. “Terrorism, one of the major dangers of the third millennium, threatens the stability of states and security of citizens while fueling violence and hatred,” he said. Colonel Mukala Altini, Zone 5 Commander, Forces Armees Nigerinnes, said Flintlock called for training together to exchange knowledge and reinforce operational capabilities. “The concept of Flintlock is a result of a common willingness expressed to fight against extremism and terrorism,” Colonel Altini said. “Shared tactics and regional cooperation learned at Flintlock 17 can be effectively put into use in the multi-national fight against violent extremist organisations such as Boko Haram, ISIS and Al Qaeda. A US Army Special Forces team commander in 3rd Special Forces Group (Airborne) said these shared goals were not without their own obstacles. Find, like, share on

“Violent extremist organisations do not care about laws, borders, or order,” he said. “Because of that, they present a security threat not just to our nations participating in Niger, but to the entire region and even the world.” One US Special Forces medical sergeant engaged in training Forces Armees Nigerinnes – also known as FAN – said one of the biggest differences he observed between the Afghan National Army and FAN was the clear lines between who they wanted to defend and who they identified themselves as. “FAN soldiers come from across Niger, which has many tribal groups. Some soldiers know French and some speak other languages, such as Hausa. “But, by training as a unit, these soldiers bond and find common ground. “It’s a complete contrast from Afghanistan – FAN soldiers are motivated because they have good leadership that sets good examples and they know that they can succeed in an organisation that gives them a better option than they might otherwise have had.” A US Special Forces weapons sergeant said that comparing his experience training Afghan soldiers and now on Exercise Flintlock, the FAN seemed to value their mentors’ time much more. “They show up willing and ready to train,” the sergeant said.

“Officers and noncommissioned officers in the FAN play an active role during training by pulling soldiers aside to work with them when their platoon is learning a new skill. “When a FAN soldier makes a mistake, leaders professionally tell him what he did wrong and show him the right way to do things. “We gave the FAN fundamentals and concepts of implementing different types of techniques and tactics, and the fact that they absorbed a good amount of the training is because they are so motivated and they have a defined enemy. “Ultimately, it’s about trusting the soldiers to your left and right. The first day of training they seemed skeptical about each other, but after training together for a while they built common ground and now have great working relationships.” Another sergeant said that from the FAN cooks to the gate guards, every soldier knew their purpose and executed their individual tasks with pride. “You will never catch a FAN soldier sleeping on guard or a mechanic quitting before a vehicle is fixed,” he said. “The officers and non-commissioned officers take pride in their work too. They train their men on their own without us having to get on to them, whereas, in Afghanistan, you had to tell the leaders what to do.


“Here they do their jobs to the best of their ability because of the looming Boko Haram threat.” Brigadier General Bolduc said Exercise Flintlock helped to achieve US Africa Command (USAFRICOM) objectives for military-capacity development, training and multinational regional cooperation. “Participating nations are members in the TSCTP and are planned by African partner nation Special Operations Forces and SOCAFRICA to develop capacity and collaboration among African security forces to protect civilian populations. “The flag on your uniform is irrelevant at Flintlock as you bring your own expertise and share it with someone wearing a different uniform or speaking a different language,” Brigadier General Bolduc told participants at an opening ceremony. “And it’s our goal, after Flintlock, to make the flag on your uniform irrelevant to the enemy. “Through exercises such as Flintlock, [we] provide military training opportunities to foster relationships of peace, security and cooperation among all trans-Saharan nations through the TSCTP program. “Flintlock isn’t the beginning of our cooperation – this training is how we solidify our cooperation and ensure we are ready for the future.”


CONTACT Air Land & Sea – 2017 Yearbook

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Each year, the School of Armour at Puckapunyal, Victoria, trains more than 1300 soldiers, NCOs and officers in the art of armoured warfare. One of the many courses run at the school is the RAAC ROBC – Royal Australian Armoured Corps Regimental Officers Basic Course. Tank instructor on the Regimental Officers Basic Course Warrant Officer Class Two Shaun Clements says the tactical training delivered on this course is first rate and Exercise Reaper’s Run – the field finale of the ROBC – is an unashamedly comprehensive and intensive live-fire combined-arms spectacle. “Reaper’s Run is a combined-arms exercise that assesses both cavalry and tank troops within a realistic combat-team construct, representing true job standard,” WO Clements says. “This year’s activity incorporated a platoon of infantry from 7RAR, dismounted scouts from 4th/19th Prince of Wales Light Horse Regiment (4/19 PWLHR) and a firesupport officer from the 8th/12th Regiment (artillery) to represent the real complexity of the roles.” Commanding Officer of the School of Armour Lieutenant Colonel Josh Gillman explains that the 6-month long ROBC and the impressive effort that goes into coordinating Exercise Reaper’s Run is a requirement for the standard of excellence that the school produces. “We invest heavily into our ROBC students so that our graduates capably meet the rigorous demands and standards placed on them by the Australian Army,” Lieutenant Colonel Gillman says. “It’s a building block for their entire career.” “Trainees move through the technical stove-pipes of communications, driving and servicing as well as gunnery to gain essential skills and qualifications before tying this all together in a tactical setting. “This builds in complexity from individual vehicles, through patrols, to troop-level tactical competence.”

“When they leave the School of Armour, ROBC graduates become efficient and effective troop leaders of the Australian Army’s Armoured Cavalry Regiments. “As troop leaders, they operate some of the most complex and capable equipment in Army, under some of the most stressful conditions.” Officer commanding B Squadron, 3rd/4th Cavalry Regiment – only recently re-raised and moved to Puckapunyal (see separate story) – at the School of Armour and combat-team commander during Exercise Reaper’s Run Major Aaron Cimbaljevic says each troop leader commands four Armoured Fighting Vehicles – M1A1 Abrams or ASLAV – worth millions of dollars. “They are also responsible for the command and welfare of 16 to 20 RAAC soldiers and NCOs – arguably our greatest asset of all,” Major Cimbaljevic says. Cavalry Lieutenant Alex Dawe says most ROBC students arrive at the School of Armour straight out of RMC – the Royal Military College-Duntroon. “For many of us, this has been our first ever experience applying our lessons in a combined-arms environment,” Lieutenant Dawe says. “Working with tanks, infantry and a JFT is invaluable in setting us up for success as troop leaders.”


Tank Lieutenant Natasha James says that the balance between the technical and the tactical is what makes the ROBC so rewarding. “I’ve honed my gunnery skills to the point where I am confidently engaging all three weapon system on the tank simultaneously, which is pretty awesome,” Lieutenant Natasha James says. “But, having the crew with me during the training has taught me more than just technique. “They’ve also taught me so much about how to conduct myself as their commander. “It’s this applied learning in a controlled environment that we haven’t had anywhere else and that will set us up for success when we go to our respective troopleader positions after ROBC.” Lieutenant Colonel Gillman explains that the school is adapting its course content and format in preparation for the new platforms Army will acquire under LAND 400. “The School of Armour is constantly changing to better support a new generation of Army’s foundation war-fighting capabilities,” Lieutenant Colonel Gillman says. “We welcome the Army’s forecasted modernisation plan that will see increasing numbers of infantry trained at the school, in M113AS4 APC crew skills and mechanised tactics. “Our courses will continue to produce the best fighting-vehicle crews, regardless of hat-badge.”

MAKING NEW TRACKS WITH PLAN BEERSHEBA School of Armour recently trained and graduated the first ever tank-troop leader of 2nd/14th Light Horse Regiment, Queensland Mounted Infantry. When Lieutenant Tony Mahoney takes up his position in the oldest regular-army unit of the Australian Army, it will symbolically mark a final phase in the application of Plan Beersheba. “Being part of the new armouredcavalry regiment in 7 Brigade feels like we are the last piece of a much bigger puzzle,” Lieutenant Mahoney, who also the regiment’s first tank-troop leader, said. Announced in 2011, Plan Beersheba proposed the restructure of Army’s combat brigades into multi-role formations, which sees each combat brigade containing a tank squadron.

“We have worked tirelessly under Plan Beersheba to ensure that the Army is equipped with a reconnaissance, lift and tank capability – on track and on time,” says WO2 Shaun Clements, School of Armour, said. By bolstering each combat Brigade with armour power, Plan Beersheba recognises the niche capability of armour in the spectrum of modern operations, from major combat, to peacetime military engagement. Wing Sergeant Major of Tactics Wing, WO2 Jason Mackay said it would be fantastic to see 7 Brigade’s capability complete with the M1A1 assets. “Armoured Corps units provide shock action, versatility and adaptability to the brigade

commander that no other formation in Army can provide,” WO2 Mackay said. Lieutenant Mahoney and his troop had less than 12 months to prepare themselves to enter into the ‘ready’ year of the Army’s Force Generation Cycle with the rest of 7 Bde, where they will provide short-notice contingency response capabilities in Australia and overseas. WO2 Mackay said the School of Armour delivered employmentready personnel to support the next generation of Army’s foundation warfighting capability and looked forward to training all future tanktroop leaders for 2/14LHR (QMI) and other RAAC members who will contribute to the ever-increasing capacity of the Australian Army.

Lieutenant Tony Mahoney



Words have meaning, but names have power By Corporal Mathew Ash, B Squadron, 3rd/4th Cavalry Regiment

The re-naming of B Squadron, 3rd/4th Cavalry Regiment in May 2017 was a momentous occasion for the Royal Australian Armoured Corps – reviving the prestige of a past proud squadron and breathing new history and pride into the important work that the squadron conducts at the School of Armour. In April 2017, Head of Corps Royal Australian Armoured Corps wrote to the Chief of Army requesting to rename Support Squadron at the School of Armour as B Squadron, 3rd/4th Cavalry Regiment. Historically, B Squadron has had a strong link to the School of Armour, with the nucleus of the unit being raised at Puckapunyal for service in Vietnam in 1966. The regiment was disbanded in 2014 and its personnel merged into the 2nd Cavalry Regiment, with custodianship of the Regiment’s guidons and historical collection entrusted to the Royal Australian Armoured Corps, Head of Corps cell, at the School of Armour. The re-naming was strongly supported by the Royal Australian Armoured Corps, by former members of the squadron and by the B Squadron, 3rd/4th Cavalry Regiment Association. After official endorsement by Chief of Army, the renaming occurred in conjunction with Royal Australian Armoured Corps birthday celebrations on 15 May. Wintry winds at Puckapunyal couldn’t dampen the renaming parade, which took place in the ‘Boppa’ hangar. Official guests, families and veterans congregated within the confines of the hangar, which quickly filled 66

to capacity, before Support Squadron formed up on parade for the last time and, after a series of speeches and an inspection from the Head of Corps, Support Squadron was marched off. Out of sight from the audience, a quick change saw the Royal Australian Armoured Corps beret badges replaced with the B Squadron, 3rd/4th Cavalry Regiment Scorpion badges. The newly badged ‘Stingers’ then marched on as B Squadron, 3rd/4th Cavalry Regiment. After the parade, attendees moved to the Sergeants’ Mess to celebrate, with the soldiers and officers of the squadron now proudly wearing the ‘Stinger’ hat badge. With the renaming official, the squadron was also honoured to take custodianship of the customs and traditions of B Squadron 3rd/4th Cavalry Regiment. Practically, despite Support Squadron being renamed, the squadron’s mission remains the same – B Squadron continues to provide personnel, equipment and resources to a high standard to support the delivery of training conducted by the School of Armour. The squadron’s support to the School Of Armour remains vital as the Army and the RAAC move into the future – trials for LAND 400 Phase 2, Royal Australian Armoured Corps Regimental Officers Basic Courses as well as support to Plan Keogh, are keeping the Squadron busier than ever as it heads towards 2018. CONTACT Air Land & Sea – 2017 Yearbook

Bilateral ties strengthened through the School of Armour When the most powerful military in the world looks to the Australian School of Armour for a benchmark of best practice it is a measure of quiet confidence for the Australian Defence Force and the School of Armour. Master Sergeant Shawn McCormick is a US Marine Corps instructor currently on a three-year exchange with the Australian Army School of Armour in Puckapunyal, Victoria. “It’s a privilege to be able to share my experience as a US Marine with the next generation of Australian Army Armoured Corps leaders,” Master Sergeant McCormick says. “I’m very impressed by the way in which the Australian Army teaches and trains its people. “There’s a level of investment in the students that is unparalleled,” he says.

Master Sergeant McCormick is referring to the sixmonth Regimental Officers Basic Course, which employs hundreds of support staff each year to teach specialist tank and cavalry skills to junior officers of the Royal Australian Armoured Corps. “The amount of time the school invests in its students is enviable. I feel that these junior officers have an extensive amount of time to practice and perfect their skills.” As a foreign military instructor embedded within the School of Armour, the Colorado native is required to use Australian doctrine and training-management plans with the students here, but, he is able to draw from his extensive operational experience in Iraq and Afghanistan to contextualise lessons and impart practical knowledge that will place Australian troops in excellent stead for future deployments.

“I share the successes and failures we have had as Marines, so that lessons can be learnt isomorphically in Australia.” Master Sergeant McCormick says. He says there’s a level of US interest in his desire to impart as much operational knowledge as he can to the young Australian junior officers. From enemy TTPs on mine drills and IEDs, to the culture of practice in command-post communications, the master sergeant believes that what helps Australia will benefit the US in the field too. “There may come a time soon where these Australian troop leaders deploy to fight side-by-side the United States. “Their ability to command effectively is very important for the US and the quality and quantity of training provided to them here at the School of Armour fills me with great confidence.”

Master Sergeant Shawn McCormick

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g II



Exercise Red Flag After three weeks of high-intensity missions, Exercise Red Flag 17-1 concluded with a good report card. A 200-strong contingent of Royal Australian Air Force personnel deployed to Nellis Air Force Base in Nevada with an E-7A Wedgetail command and control aircraft and a C-130J Hercules transport, in January, for the threeweek exercise. There they joined colleagues from the United States


and United Kingdom – in fact, for the first time ever, a non-American took a senior commanded position on the exercise, with RAAF officer Group Captain Stuart Bellingham commanding the Combined Air and Space Operations Centre. Another first for this exercise – and very interesting to the Australians too – was the debut appearance of the F-35A Lightning Joint Strike Fighter. For the Australian contingent, the participation of USAF-operated F-35As, as well as the United States Navy’s E/A-18G Growler electronic attack jet, provided

exposure to two capabilities that will soon enter RAAF service. “We are integrated with these capabilities from start to finish, from planning missions, through to debriefing the missions,” Group Captain Bellingham said. “Australia has air battlespace managers from No. 2 Squadron (E-7A Wedgetail operators) and No. 41 Wing (part of Surveillance and Response Group) who are controlling the Red Flag airspace, and getting firsthand experience how these capabilities can be employed.

“We’re getting real insight into understanding the capabilities and what Australia’s future is going to look like.” After the first eight days “at war” and more than 100 sorties, the USAF reported that the F-35A Lightning II was proving to be an invaluable asset with a claimed 15-to1 kill ratio. Lieutenant Colonel George Watkins, an F-35 pilot and 34th Fighter Squadron commander, said the first day they

CONTACT Air Land & Sea – 2017 Yearbook

RAAF 4 Sqn Combat Controllers check a dry lake bed for suitability to land a C-130.

Group Captain Stuart Bellingham (tall man beside Skippy) and the Air Battlespace Management team for Exercise Red Flag 17-1, comprising members of the Royal Australian Air Force, Royal Australian Navy and the United States Marine Corps.

RAAF Group Captain Stuart Bellingham became the first non-American to command the Combined Air and Space Operations Centre at a Red Flag exercise

flew (on defensive counter-air) they didn’t lose a single friendly aircraft. “That’s unheard of,” Lieutenant Colonel Watkins said. “Because of the aircraft’s increased capability, exercise planners then increased the complexity of scenarios for the ‘Blue Air’ players. “The number of adversaries has increased, their skill level has increased, the sophistication of the surface-to-air threat has increased.” So how good is it – how did the

F-35A fare in a sophisticated warfighting environment? While Lieutenant Colonel Watkins did confirm a 15-to-1 kill ratio for the Lightning, he explained that that figure didn’t really mean anything in the bigger picture of Exercise Red Flag. He said the kill ratio was a little misleading because the F-35 was tasked with taking out ground threats while F-22s and F-15Cs took care of the air-to-air threat. “This Red Flag’s scenarios and the aggressors they’re putting up for the

missions we’re flying are significantly more complex and aggressive than previous years. “I’ve been to about four Red Flags, one as recent as a year and a half ago flying an F-16, and I’ve never seen a Red Flag like this where they put up as many advanced threats against us. “This is a training exercise for pilots, so if

we didn’t suffer a few losses it wouldn’t be challenging enough. “So there are some threats out there that make it through because of the sheer numbers and advanced missiles that they’re shooting at us. “We have had one or two losses so far in our training, which is good for the pilots. “But,right now we’re counting about 15-to-one kill ratio for aggressors to F35s, even though the air-to-air mission is not our primary role. “So I guess you could say we’re doing very, very well.”

RAAF C-130J Hercules (left and right) and E-7A Wedgetail (centre).

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Photos by Daniel McIntosh

F-35A Australia’s own

Australia’s first two F-35A Lightning IIs were officially welcomed to the Australian International Airshow on 3 March 2017 by Minister for Defence Marise Payne and Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull. “There’s nothing like landing two JSFs in Australia to make a Defence Minister’s Day,” Minister Payne said. “It is a very important step in the development of Australian air-force capability and the engagement of Australian industry in that process. “They will provide the RAAF with the ability to execute air-combat missions which were previously beyond our scope. In fact, not too long ago, previously beyond our imagination. “The F-35 has stealth built into it right from the start. Its fuel tanks, its weapons, its sensors are on the inside. It can go further. It’s harder to see. Its ability to share information will increase the survivability and the capability of other assets in the air, on the ground and in the water.” 70

CONTACT Air Land & Sea – 2017 Yearbook

AT AVALON Prime Minister Turnbull said the F-35 Lightning II was the most advanced fighter in the world and was being built with Australian technology on board. “Already, 32 Australian businesses have reaped the value of $800million because they are part of the Joint Strike Fighter Program,� Mr Turnbull said. Find, like, share on


Another new RAAF asset debuting at the Australian International Airshow was the EA-18G Growler electronic attack aircraft. Australia has purchased 12 EA-18G Growlers – a potent and technologically advanced new capability for the RAAF – which are expected to be delivered to RAAF Base Amberley in Queensland by mid this year. Minister for Defence Marise Payne said Growler was a true force-multiplier. “Growler can disrupt military electronic systems, such as radars, to protect personnel and improve situational awareness,” she said. “Australia is the only country outside the US flying the EA-18G and its arrival is a significant leap forward in Australia’s joint electronic warfare capability, and introduces a dedicated electronic attack option for the RAAF.” Minister Payne also announced, at Avalon, that Australia would partner with the US to develop a next-generation radar and radio jammer for Growler.

Photo by Bradley Richardson

“This is a $250m investment that will future-proof the Growler’s capability,” Minister Payne said. “As this is a rapidly evolving area, we will work in partnership with the United States Navy to develop the next generation jamming capability, which will ensure that these aircraft remain at the technological forefront throughout their service life.” Chief of Air Force Air Marshal Leo Davies said the Growler was a vital part of the RAAF’s evolution to a future fifth-generation Air Force. “The EA-18G Growler will operate as part of our networked and integrated force, capable of sharing electronic intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance data with other aircraft, as well as with the Army and Navy,” Air Marshal Davies said. “The Growler is powerful and flexible. It can undertake a range of non-kinetic tasks, ranging from jamming, to blocking radar displays, and suppressing an adversary’s air defence systems.” 72

CONTACT Air Land & Sea – 2017 Yearbook

The two aircraft spreads presented here, represent just eight pages out of a 78-page special issue of COMBAT Camera magazine completely dedicated to the Australian International Airshow at Avalon this year, which we produced with the invaluable assistance of two awesome photographers – Daniel McIntosh and Bradley Richardson – without whose assistance that magazine would not have been possible. Find, like, share on



Western Australia AND

US Geo-strategy

Harold E Holt

By Serge DeSilva-Ranasinghe, a security analyst, defence writer and consultant and Mitchell Sutton, a security analyst and defence writer. With the recent announcements surrounding an upgraded US military presence in northern Australia, attention is once again turning towards WA’s own long relationship with the superpower. While the US has been publicly guarded about its present and future position in WA, there are compelling strategic and political reasons which make the State an attractive location for a wide spectrum of military activities. The future is likely to see engagement built upon further, as the US increases its presence in the Indian Ocean and Asia Pacific regions. While the US Navy was heavily involved in WA during World War II, it did not establish a permanent presence in the State until 1967. Naval Communications (NAVCOMMSTA) Harold E Holt, located at Exmouth Gulf, was the most powerful transmitter in the USN’s worldwide Very Low Frequency (VLF) transmitter network, designed to facilitate communication with submerged ballistic missile submarines. While the base was shifted to full Australian control during the 1990s, a keen interest has been retained in Exmouth. An ex-US Government C-Band Radar has been installed at the site, whilst the nearby Learmonth Solar Observatory continues to be run jointly by the USAF and Australian Bureau of Meteorology. 74

The Cold War-era technology and basing arrangements at Exmouth provide a stark contrast to a more recent and discrete US presence, established at the Australian Defence Satellite Communications Station (ADSCS). Located at Kojarena, 30km outside of Geraldton, the ADSCS site includes a ground station for the communications satellites of the US Wideband Global Satellite system. HMAS Stirling and Fremantle Port have also been regularly used as stopover points by the US Navy. In 2003 Perth was the site of an experimental ‘Sea-Swap’ programme, whereby USN crews stationed in WA would replace personnel on US warships returning from the Persian Gulf. Although the programme was discontinued, US vessels have continued to use the ports as a stopover point. Despite this history of engagement, the future of US involvement in WA remains unclear at this stage. In the past there have been flashes of interest, including a report from the Washington-based Centre for Strategic and International Studies in 2012, advocating construction of US facilities in the Cocos Islands, and the basing of a nuclear carrier group at HMAS Stirling. A year later, Secretary of the US Navy Ray Mabus noted in an interview with The Diplomat, that: “the last Australia-U.S. ministerial talks agreed to specifically

look at things like HMAS Stirling in Perth…I think that shows the importance of Perth and, as the study gets underway, that importance will be confirmed”. Despite a steady drumbeat of speculation since, nothing tangible has eventuated in this direction. This may be changing with the unveiling of recent plans to rotate long-range USAF aircraft through Australian airbases in the Northern Territory. If the US does eventually opt for an upgraded presence in WA the likely scenario would be similar to this plan, with a gradual increase in US usage of existing facilities. This might include HMAS Stirling and the bare base airfields Learmonth and Curtin. CONTACT Air Land & Sea – 2017 Yearbook



Our Western Flank Discussion of Western Australia’s place in the Indo-Pacific has, until recently, tended to be dominated by trade and economic engagement, rather than strategic concerns. Yet the fact that WA sits on the doorstep of a region riven with some of the world’s most intractable conflicts cannot be ignored. Regionally, a bewildering array of actors are engaged in conflicts across the spectrum of warfare, ranging from the low level insurgencies of Myanmar and Thailand to the nuclear brinksmanship of India and Pakistan. For WA, this proximity to major world flashpoints potentially contains both a veritable threat and a salient opportunity. Whilst the possibility of WA coming under direct attack from foreign state actors remains low, there is nonetheless a range of ways in which WA’s security and prosperity could be compromised. The most likely of these is the severing of the sea lanes linking WA to its key trading partners. Even a minor naval conflict in the South China Sea could severely disrupt exports to northeast Asia, whilst attacks on shipping in the Suez Canal, Bab-elMandeb or Strait of Hormuz would dramatically reduce imports of petroleum from the Middle East. Another regional threat with very real consequences for WA is climate change, and the prospect of ongoing crises associated with mass population movements. A case in point is Bangladesh, where an estimated 17 million people could be displaced if sea levels rise by 1.5 metres. Hence, with the State’s geographical proximity, vast coastline and a small population of little over 2.5 million, WA may well be confronted by an increasingly precarious situation unfolding in our near neighbourhood. Conversely, these dangers are balanced with significant opportunities. WA is perfectly located to support the ADF’s operations in the Indian Ocean and Asia Pacific regions, significantly reducing the time and cost required to deploy assets across the vast distances involved. This is

highly significant, considering the numerous operations that Australia is currently engaged in worldwide, most are located in or near the Indian Ocean and its littoral states. Aircraft supporting the Australian contributions to Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria frequently stop over at Exmouth’s RAAF Base Learmonth and Bullsbrook’s RAAF Base Pearce on their way to Al Minhad Airbase in the UAE. At the same time, naval vessels participating in the international counter-piracy, terrorism and drug taskforces in the western Indian Ocean are usually either based at, or utilise, Rockingham’s HMAS Stirling. There is the potential for this to be developed even further in future, if additional Navy or Army assets were to be permanently based in WA. WA’s strategic location is also ideal for facilitating regional military cooperation. At present foreign naval vessels frequently stop over at HMAS Stirling, with allied sailors also utilising the base’s unique submarine escape training facility. There is significant scope to expand this cooperation into naval exercises with regional powers such as France, India, Pakistan and South Africa, whilst WA’s large training range at Yampi Sound, which is due to be upgraded, could be utilised for multinational amphibious exercises. Reaffirming WA’s strategic value proposition to the national interest, General Peter Leahy, the former Chief of Army, recently said: “WA is Australia’s gateway to the Indian Ocean and the many littoral states that are part of both a prosperous and fractious region. It was also the launching place for many of our forces in the First and Second World Wars and today it stands as the sentinel over our Western flank”. Regardless of the ratio of risks and opportunities, it is evident that WA and ill-afford to ignore the strategic impact of its location in the IndoPacific region.

Commenting on WA’s strategic importance to the US, Australia’s former Ambassador to the US, Kim Beazley, affirmed: “WA basing has great enthusiasts in the US national security think tanks, so it will stay on the US agenda”, he said. “Official enthusiasm will wax and wane. What needs to be done is costly, and the US hopes we will pick up the tab for base expansion and renovation of Cocos”. He added: “Future American interest for once heavily depends on the presidential outcome, but the inescapable significance of our geography to US space-based systems will remain”. Find, like, share on



PTSD unmasked Subject Trooper David Nicholson Makeup by Ambah de Smet Photography by Justin Marshall – JM Photography If you, or someone you know needs help, please contact: LIFELINE on 13 11 14 VVCS on 1800 011 046 or BEYOND BLUE on 1300 22 4636


If a picture paints a thousand words, these pictures speak volumes for our veterans suffering from PTSD, according to the subject of the powerful images, Trooper David Nicholson. “For those of you who don’t know, a lot of our service people wear a mask to cover our PTSD,” Trooper Nicholson said. “Wearing the mask and having a fake smile hides, but doesn’t heal, the pain. Behind the mask you hide anger, pain, anxiety, nightmares and depression. People don’t see it, hear it or know about it. But, being alone, it will tear at you, consume you and rip you to pieces. You’ll fall into a dark hole that reveals no way out. When you get so deep it will not only affect you, but your love life, family and friends too. The hardest part of PTSD isn’t how you got it, or even how you try to hide it – it’s when you ask for help. Asking for help is scary. Yes you may feel weak – but trust me when I say, take the mask off, ask for help, speak to your loved ones and family about it. And – prepare for the weight to be lifted off your shoulders. Reach out. Your brothers and sisters are there for you.”



The Australian Army is drawing on the knowledge and experience of Aboriginal people to develop the professional skills of its soldiers in a new initiative called The Tulugal Program. Designed by the 4th/19th Prince of Wales’s Light Horse Regiment in Victoria, the Tulugal Program combines Aboriginal field craft with the conventional fighting techniques of the Royal Australian Armoured Corps cavalry scouts. Indigenous tracking and survival skills are taught to participants of the program, who must then demonstrate these competencies in the field, proving their ability to combine contemporary and traditional tactics, techniques and procedures to understand terrain and weather effects, and navigate and track with stealth and cunning. Successful participants of the Tulugal Program qualify as optimised cavalry scouts – brilliant at the traditional basics, yet armed with the contemporary skills and assets to provide an enhanced capability in the Australian Army. The Tulugal Program recognises and values the rich history, culture and knowledge of Indigenous Australians, drawing from their experience over thousands of years, 78

to generate a tactical advantage for Australian soldiers conducting warlike operations. The program takes its name from the chilling and formidable spirit Tulugal of the Dreamtime stories from the Yuin tribe in south-east Australia. Tulugal materialises like a ghost or shadow, emerging from the natural landscape to haunt and wreak havoc on those who have done wrong. Creator of the Tulugal Program Lieutenant Colonel John Molnar said cavalry scouts of the Australian Army embodied the qualities of this haunting shadow – Tulugal. “Cavalry scouts are trained to observe without being seen, operating as one with the natural environment and capable of coordinating firepower to break contact or enable freedom of troop movement, before disappearing without leaving a trace,” Lieutenant Colonel Molnar said. “The program aims to recognise, respect and value the relationship that Aboriginal people have with the natural environment, which takes a unique approach of embracing field and tracking skills developed over thousands of years to build capability within a modern defence force.

“Without an understanding and appreciation of the land, we are blind to the opportunities and threats that may surround us, so it is important we learn how to read the land and the secrets and stories it holds.” Aboriginal bush craft, tracking, navigation and surveillance skills are integrated with lessons on cultural competence, teaching Australian Army soldiers not only how to learn from the natural environment, but how to engage better with people from different cultures. Wurundjeri Elder Uncle Bill Nicholson Jr was invited by the Army to present the Tulugal pin to the participants. Trooper Luke Green said having Uncle Bill present participants with the Tulugal pin was meaningful. “It was a great way to finish the program, which was all about our respect and recognition of Indigenous knowledge and connection with the land,” Trooper Green said. “This kind of knowledge can help us to read and interpret the information we are gathering on the battlefield. “We’ve learnt that every blade of grass has a story to tell.” CONTACT Air Land & Sea – 2017 Yearbook



Private Hayden Cullen

Anja Rabe and her husband Wilhelm

It was just an empty wallet, but for New Zealand soldier Private Hayden Cullen, no price could be put on reuniting it with the family of the German officer who saved his great grandfather’s life in WWI. It would also bring a sense of closure on a remarkable battlefield story. Private Cullen, a member of the Army Band with the NZDF contingent in Belgium to commemorate the Battle of Passchendaele centenary on 12 October, was under no illusion about the enormity of the task. “I know it’s a long shot but if one miracle can happen – why can’t another?” In November 1918 Private Ray Cullen was serving in the New Zealand Machine Gun Corps during the liberation of the French township of Le Quesnoy, which had been in German hands since 1914. According to letters he sent home, Private Cullen was badly wounded during a German artillery barrage and was saved, miraculously, when a German officer and his men, who were coming over to surrender, stumbled across him and took him with them to Allied lines. Before being marched off to captivity, the German officer is said to have given his wallet to Private Cullen, which he took back to the family farm outside Te Awamutu after the war. Over the years, the family has attempted to identify the family of the wallet’s owner, but to no avail. “They’re pinning their hopes on me now, so in a lastditch effort I’ve brought the wallet back to Europe,” Private Cullen said. Find, like, share on

“You never know who you might meet over here – even 99 years later! “Failing that, I’m hoping the power of the media and social media will connect our family with the family of the German officer – Herr H. Held, of Hannover. We owe them a great deal for what their ancestor did for ours.” And so it happened – one German news site based in Hanover saw the story on the CONTACT web site and contacted us, believing they had found the German. Two other news outlets also had their journalists working the case. In the end, the Allgemaine Zeitung newspaper broke the news that the German officer was Heinrich Held, from Eppensen in Lower Saxony, and they had located and spoken to his great-niece, Anja Rabe, now 74. Mrs Rabe lives in a small town not far from Mr Held’s birthplace and was overjoyed to hear about her connection with Private Cullen and his family and said she would love the opportunity to meet. Private Cullen was blown away. “I guess this is the power of media and the reach of social media. It has achieved in 10 days what our family have been unable to achieve in 99 years,” he said. However, the discovery was a little bitter-sweet. Mr Held died in 1929 without marrying and without children, and Mrs Rabe, while married, no children too. “I’m the last in my family line,” she said. “I never knew much about Heinrich. He died before I was born and, for whatever reason, my mother never talked of him – and I regret not asking.”

Even more disappointing was that when her grandmother died, the house was cleaned out and most family photos and details of Mr Held’s military record were lost. But for now, Private Cullen and his family are just delighted to be able to finally put a name, a family and a town to the wallet – until next year. “My aunt is travelling to Le Quesnoy next November to celebrate the centenary of the liberation of the town by the New Zealand Division,” Private Cullen said. “She’ll definitely be making a side trip to a small town in Germany to give thanks to a family for effectively saving ours.” 79

AP-3C Orion On December 12, 2016, a Lockheed AP3C Orion A9-753 was delivered to HARS Headquarters at Albion Park, NSW. Almost 11 months later and, with a mountain of paperwork signed and red tape cut through, the ‘keys’ to the aircraft were formally handed over at a well-attended ceremony at the Historical Aircraft Restoration Society Museum on 3 November 2017. Chief of Air Force Air Marshal Leo Davies flew in from Canberra on a RAAF VIP Fleet CL-604 Challenger to do the honours. President and Chief Pilot of HARS Bob De La Hunty was joined by Mayor

of Shellharbour Marianne Saliba and Aboriginal Elder Aunty Lindy for the official signing and hand-over. It was mentioned a couple of times at the handover ceremony [unless I misheard] that the Historical Aircraft Restoration Society made it’s own history that day by becoming the first civilian aircraft museum in the world to take ownership of a military aircraft while the type was still in service. This was disputed by one eagle-eyed CONTACT fan – see below. Orions first entered RAAF service in 1968 as the P-3B model, with the P-3C variant introduced in 1978.

Historical aircraft restoration Society Coup Following several modification projects, the significantly upgraded current AP-3C Orions were introduced to service in 2002. The AP-3C in service is fitted with a variety of sensors, including digital multimode radar, electronic support measures, electro-optics detectors (infra-red and visual), magnetic anomaly detectors, friend-or-foe identification systems and acoustic detectors – all of which were removed before delivery to HARS. In 2012 the AP-3C Orion ceased 10 years of operational service in the Middle East – the HARS airframe, A9-753, among the aircraft rotated through the theatre – completing 2400 missions with

more than 3500 personnel deployed throughout the period. The AP-3C Orion is in the process of a graduated draw down to retirement with the final aircraft planned withdrawal date in 2021. The AP-3C will be replaced by the P-8A Poseidon and MQ-4C Triton – with four Poseidons already delivered to the RAAF and a fifth expected before the end of this year. The Royal Australian Air Force has already ordered eight MQ-4C Tritons, with the first unmanned aircraft to be delivered soon, and all eight aircraft fully operational by 2021.


I’m afraid I must dispute the claim about it being the “first civilian aircraft museum in the world to take ownership of a military aircraft while the type is still in service”. Countless Canadair CT-133 Silver Stars were in civilian ownership, as both flyable and static display aircraft, long before the Canadian Armed Forces finally retired the type. The Collings Foundation started flying their F-4D Phantom II well before the last F-4 left USAF service, and Phantoms remain in service in South Korea, Japan, Iran and others. However, the fact that HARS has been reported as saying they hope to operate A9-753 as a flyable warbird while the RAAF continues to fly active-service Orions is certainly noteworthy.

Jeff, via CONTACT web-site comments


CONTACT Air Land & Sea – 2017 Yearbook

Memorial WAR ANIMAL A new memorial to the memory of war animals was dedicated at Pozieres, France, this year. On 21 July, in cooperation with the people of Pozieres, the Australian War Animal Memorial Organisation (AWAMO) proudly dedicated the first war-animal memorial on the Western Front, to recognise all animals from all nations that were involved in the Great War. It is estimated that more than 9,000,000 serving animals perished or were wounded throughout the Great War and Pozieres – the scene of some of the most bitter and costly fighting for Australian troops, which was also a place of untold losses in animal lives. The new memorial at Pozieres was conceived and designed by AWAMO President Nigel Allsopp. “We should never forget that not only two-legged but four-legged diggers served our nation and many others, and continue to do so today,” Mr Allsopp said. “These animals have demonstrated true valour and an enduring partnership with humans, and they will now be honoured with this beautiful new memorial and rose garden.” Dedicated to all animals regardless of which side they served on is reflected in a wooden sign at the approach that reads, ‘WWI War Animal Memorial’. To the left of this entrance is a statue of St Francis – patron saint of animals – beneath which is a stone of remembrance for the Australian Army Veterinary Corps. Either side of Saint Francis are two standard roses – one called Rosie the other Sniff – named on behalf of Dr Harry Cooper’s and Dr Brendan Nelson’s favourite dogs. Find, like, share on

Proceeding towards the main centre monument to the left and right are the first of four cast-iron seats – this first two called ‘Autumn Leaves’. Next on the left is the New Zealand War Animal Memorial – and, directly opposite, the war animal memorial for all nations. A second pair of seats – called the ‘Tree of Life’ – preceed the main monument, dedicated to Australian War animals. Called ‘Emerging Spirit’, the main sculpture features a horse’s head and neck within whose mane can be seen a mule, donkey, pigeon and dog – all part of the waranimal story. Internationally renowned Artist Susan Bahary produced the two main sculptures and Mr Allsopp thanked her for “bringing the story and life into the memorial that the war animals deserve”. “Flanking the main sculpture are two more rose standards, named Bernard and Barry in honour of Pozieres Mayor Bernard Delattre and Barry Garcey, Chevalier de Légion d’Honneur, without whose support and generosity the memorial would not have had a home,” Mr Allsopp said. “All three plinths are surrounded by purple war animal roses – The Charles de Gaulle rose – duplicates of which can be bought in Australia from Treloar Roses.” Several hundred people attended the memorial dedication including official representatives from Australia, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, France, Belgium, India, the United States and Canada, as well

as Mayor Delattre, Mr Garcey, local townspeople, Australian War Memorial Director Brendan Nelson, celebrity television vet Dr Cooper and a number of Australian tourists lucky enough to encounter the opening while coincidentally touring the battlefields of the Somme. During the dedication ceremony, Dr Nelson and Dr Cooper told touching stories of war victims both human and animal, invoking many tears. ADF veterinarian Major Kendall Crocker talked of the people who cared for and looked after the war animals – the various Veterinary Corps who saved many thousands of lives, especially of horses. Mr Allsopp said a war-animal memorial could not have been opened without animals being present for the big occasion. “I would like to thank the Royal Army Veterinary Corps who sent 20 military working dogs and their handlers to the event. “They even loaned a military working dog to ADF dog handler Corporal Young who was there too. “Ian Grey, Vice President of Redland RSL, had made several contacts that resulted in local horses and donkeys also being on parade and many re-enactors and visitors brought their pets along.” Mr Allsopp said there were many people who made the memorial dedication possible and he humbly thanked all for their time, passion and commitment. “Together we have made a lasting memorial to honour the winged and four-legged soldiers of World War I.” 81



t’s only been 85 minutes since I left the deployment area, yet I’m sweating profusely and I am frustrated and angry at myself. It’s a sniper live-fire stalking exercise and I have exactly 35 minutes left to be in position and fire off the first round in this traditional timehonoured training sequence. I am angry because I am struggling to find that elusive position that I can fire from and yet remain completely invisible to the trained eyes that are continuously looking for me and my fellow snipers being assessed. Four snipers have already fired their first blank rounds. The pressure is self generating and is building rapidly. I am running a $380 leaf suit that is extremely light and allows for my body to breath and maintain temperature without overheating during my movement into position. The suit has a ‘real-tree’ disruptive pattern printed into it that works perfectly. No longer was I worried about running camouflage paint on my face that would sweat off or rub off when using Comms gear or binos, now we were running camouflage veils that breathed and presented nothing resembling the shape of a human face. Stalk engagements range anywhere from 100-1500m depending on assessment requirments. Today’s stalk has a 120-minute time limit and we are to set up between 500m and 100m from the target. Half the guys on the left side of the range, the other half on the right. The target is an enemy silhouette, one-dimensional cardboard in a frame. Out to 200m you’re expected to deliver a head shot, from 200 to 500 you’re permitted to bang a round 82

IN THIS ARTICLE, JASON SEMPLE EXAMINES THE TIME-HONOURED TRAINING SEQUENCE THAT IS A SNIPER LIVE-FIRE STALKING EXERCISE – AND EXPLORES WHY THIS MAY ACTUALLY BE ‘TRAINING FOR FAILURE’ into centre body mass. In an exercise where the name of the game is to shoot and not be detected, the smart money is on being as close as you can to the 500m maximum range allowance. Some guys would get in close but there is no reward for this in the assessment – only increased risk of failure. So, from a shooter perspective the no-brainer for me is to use every bit of distance I have available. Why would I want to give the trained sniper sitting in front of the target any better opportunity to spot me, by me being closer than I have to. There is no range finder permitted either, range is determined by using the mildots on our scopes or binos and the known height of the target. The main rules to a successful stalk – use your time wisely, don’t ever move laterally to the the target unless behind cover, get a clean keyhole for your round to travel to the target, make sure you have multiple layers of depth in concealment between you and the spotter looking for you. If you get your depth right, you are impossible to see – it’s all about layers of foreground against similar background. The guy hunting me is sitting on an ammo crate in front of the target frame. I watch him traverse from his Steiner military 7 x 50 binos to a 20-60x spotting scope. I can see he is not quite looking on a bearing direct to me, so I can move a little still looking for my ultimate position. Finally, after much tedious and careful scouting, I have found the spot. It will need a little work but I’m


at approx 460m from the spotter and there is at least 175m of solid depth that he will need to burn through to see me – no chance! The catch for me, however, is that I have 175m of bush that my round needs to travel through without deflection. But, there is a very small window my round can travel through and I make some quick notes on a few suspect branches that are a risk to the bullet’s trajectory. I measure those branch heights with my binos and I’m happy that the round will go over two suspect branches at their separate ranges. Software now allows for perfect loophole calculations during operations to ensure the projectile flight is clear. My engagement in this case requires me to shoot from a seated position, which is not uncommon when you’re in the bush with so many items at prone height to block your view and your shot. I have three shooting sticks in my pack, connected by thick elastic bands about two-thirds way along the 60cm sticks. This allows me to make an adjustable tripod. I place a camouflaged rice bag in the newly made tripod, then my rifle and make sure it’s all very stable and at the perfect height. I’m happy I have everything ready. All my kit is ready to go if needed as well. Now it’s up to me and my precision rifle to make this a success. We are given two blank rounds at the start of the exercise and are later supplied with a live round once the walker (directing staff) is happy I’m safe to shoot relative to the position of other exercise participants. The next phase is upon me and I fire off my first blank round. Now I’m really under the microscope. The spotter CONTACT Air Land & Sea – 2017 Yearbook

Shooting the MCX at the Sig Sauer range day

has heard the shot, is zoned in on my direction and is attempting to find my location. He gets nothing. If he cannot see me in a reasonable timeframe, I am told to fire my second blank round. Now the spotter is carefully looking for movement or anything that might give my position away. He will be looking for muzzle flash and foliage being moved by the blast. He sees nothing. He asks the walker to walk within 15m of my position. Still nothing. The walker gives me some encouragement, “There’s no fucking way he will ping you there mate, great spot. You got a clear shot though? There’s a lot of fuck’n bush between you and the target”. I tell him it’s good to go. Well, I’m confident it is anyway. The spotter holds up an A4-sized sheet with the number 9 printed in black. This is to ensure I have a clear view. I radio through what I see. He asks me in gruff monotone, “Range to target?” I send my estimated distance of 460m – lucky I had the reticle to help me get it very close. Directing staff ensure I have no other participants within my shooting arc and the template is safe. Once deemed safe, the spotter leaves his position and I am supplied with the operational 175grain .308 match round by the walker. “You may load your magazine only. Find, like, share on

“Point of Aim?” he asks while adjusting his peltor hearing protection. I am cocky at 460m and call ‘head’. He smirks, knowing the reaction on the other end when he transmits my intended POA. “All call signs, sierra 5 going hot, standby.” “Sierra 5 you may load and you are cleared to fire.” Small amounts of my cammo scope veil are flickering in front of my objective lense in the slight breeze. I adjust slightly to the right of the target to counter this breeze coming from right to left across the range. I can see the target clearly. I’m not challenged by this distance, but the seated position requires a little more care for a superstable position during shot release. I gently press my trigger and, in an instant, my hard work will either be success or failure. I’m happy with my release, it felt good – you always know when a shot is released nicely. I unload my rifle and I am cleared by the walker so the spotter can return and check my hit – or miss – on the target. I hear static over my comms. “Sierra 5 has hit right cheekbone area of target head. Good shooting!” I am directed to move 15m out of my position to determine if I would be seen on exfill. Nothing seen. Success. The elation of beating someone with more experience at their own skill set is gratifying. The truth is,

if you do the simple things right, it’s virtually impossible to be seen. That is the art form. Of course I am happy to have passed the training objective and find my score is near perfect. This type of training has been going on virtually the same way for decades – the only changes being advancements in equipment. So, what did I think of the training process I had just completed? It was professional training that measured and assessed specific training objectives and showed I could conceal myself and engage against a trained sniper instructor. It showed that I understood the necessary concepts and could apply them. The problem with this type of training is the onedimensional aspect of the employment of skills. I could conceal myself wearing high-visibility work wear if you give me enough depth for concealment. The problem is not concealing yourself, its doing so in a way that allows for maximising the observation area for a real-world target and providing the most flexibility for mission outcomes. There is also the fact that groups in Australia, unlike the USA, assess their snipers as individuals during stalking tasks. Reality would never see guys operating alone. Fact is, they would be operating more likely in four- or six-man teams that split into pairs if needed. 83

In 2008 I was tasked with running a sniper course for the newly established Operational Response Group in the AFP, which would require guys to operate domestically in Australia but also in the jungles of Solomon Islands and potentially PNG and other similar locations where we had Australian interests. I was designing the course outline using the same template that I’d experienced in NSWP Tactical Operations Unit and also during sniper training all over Australia. This was my chance to try some new training techniques and break the mould that we’d used for so long. As I said to guys in my command at the time, “we are training guys for failure” and this needed to be addressed immediately. Here is the problem – sniper training such as delivered in live-fire stalks is not a true representation of what snipers are required to do in real-world activities. Of course the concepts of concealment, observation and delivery of fire are represented, but not in a realistic way. Our targets never sit in a chair scanning the horizon for sniper teams. They are doing normal day-to-day 84

activities. They are mobile, moving from one dwelling to another, or one village hut to another. They are arriving in areas of interest in vehicles, walking around, talking on mobile phones – MOVING! You get the drift! How long could a sniper team with a minuscule keyhole through 170m of brush be effective when their viewing area is limited to a metre or so. They would be out of work in no time and never able to deliver timely or accurate updates to their command – and not able to engage, if required. Don’t get me wrong, many targets constantly surveille their location and even run the odd patrol, but not the entire time, 24hrs a day. We needed to teach guys how to make opportunities and exploit those opportunities. One thing we had noticed during operations overseas was that our guys were not bold enough, they were indoctrinated into very static positions that gave limited results. The guys were not showing a willingness to take measured risks that, when carried out correctly, meant very little chance of compromise but offered high-level returns. I don’t mean reckless activities either, bold but deliberate and controlled using concealment techniques and good communication within the team.

One of the senior snipers in my team (formerly from Special Operations Group) was an experienced surveillance operative who had pushed the boundaries in that area for many years. He assisted greatly in this area of evolution. The live-fire stalk assessment stayed in my program with no change. The guys met that benchmark and we immediately moved away from it to a more aggressive and dynamic process that would give them the tools they needed to operate better in the real world. The snipers on a stalk assessment now faced realistic task-oriented assessments. They would be briefed on the nature of the task and then given a time period to conduct the task. They were to work in pairs with allowance to communicate between other pairs to facilitate target coverage and also speedy movement into target locations. Guys would move covertly into target locations and either be met with a scenario that was already in motion or, on many occasions, be expected to lay in wait for targets to arrive via vehicle. I’ll use the latter as the example now. Once the vehicle arrived they would be expected to setup on that vehicle CONTACT Air Land & Sea – 2017 Yearbook

so as to provide observation and a lethal intervention ability. Our instructor would then carry out certain activities like removing weapons from the vehicle, or explosives, radios or other items with intelligence significance. The teams would be required to observe and get all of this information including vehicle details and target descriptions and relay the intel to command. We would assess the observation skills of our guys this way, like an ob-ex during the stalk. Many times this requirement for complete information packets would entail the sniper team stalking around and using more than one position. If the stalk was a live-fire stalk we would send in another role-play instructor as part of the scenario. In this case the role player may take the role of an intelligence/covert operative who was going to purchase weapons etc as part of a counter-terrorism sting. This person was now protected by us. At a point in time the target would make the covert operative assume an assassination pose on his knees and the target would raise a pistol to the back of his head. This would then see sniper teams take action – or it should anyway. Teams would be questioned later as Find, like, share on

to why they took the shot, or why they didn’t. It forced the teams to make decisions, and communicate these decisions and act on them. Once a shot was taken by any team, the target position and the kneeling operative position would be changed out by three dimensional foam mannequin targetry. The range would then be run like previously explained until all teams had the opportunity to shoot and have shots assessed. We would then debrief the scenario and the conduct of each team. Many good points passed through for later use. We ran numerous scenarios with real-world relevance, replication of many previous operations over the years. We taught our guys how to think, how to be bold and when to be bold. We taught them flexibility and the application of sniper skills that were relevant to our areas of operations. Guys were encouraged to push scenarios, especially if they had encountered a difficult scenario on a recent operation. We ran scenarios where guys were expecting 120 minutes to complete a task and were actually only given 20.

We ran scenarios where we simulated all communications were down with command. Anything to push the guys and have them exposed to problems they would encounter without doubt in operations. As many readers are aware, real-world operations don’t always run on a timeline that suits us. Many times things change at the last minute and require guys to think very quickly and make good decisions. You need to train these skills and hone them relative to the realistic expectations of the operations you are engaged in. Reality-based training has been around for a while now, but you’d be surprised at how some training providers are still doing the same old training, resistant to change. Change is the only constant in life, so embrace it! Create the combative and real-world experience in our guys before going in the field. That’s the main intent of our training. Best to make the realistic mistakes during training rather than when things matter and lives are in the balance. 85



ondon is as busy as one would expect for a major city, and my quintesential London cab driver is doing his best to navigate the traffic between my hotel on the river Thames and a nearby train station, so I can hit the tube system and on to Heathrow Airport. It’s one of the few times I am in a cab or taxi these days, with Uber being my preferred form of urban transport by a country mile. Today however, the short walk from hotel to taxi rank was too irresistible – a bird in the hand scenario in practice. My driver is very much the typical London cabby, amicable and talkative with a hint of Steptoe and Son, where you feel on the verge of being conned into a tourist trip of some kind. “You’re from Australia are you mate? Geez what do they feed you guys over there? I went to Brisbane once, proper nice weather over there mate. The missus wants to move there.” We go through some minor banter until both our interests wane. I’m thinking how much I’d prefer an Uber. But the London Cab experience is cool too.

The driver has been listening to the radio while battling the vehicular congestion and he starts his banter again. “Hey big fella. Someone just tried to blow up a train on the tube! You still want me to drop you off at the station?” If someone had made that comment 10 years ago I would have been more shocked than I was today, and that is sad really. We are that de-sensitised to these violent incidents that we seem disturbed about them for a few days. then it’s business as usual. I actually said to a mate before leaving for London that I would not be surprised if there was an incident while I was there, purely because it had been a few months since there had been an attack. I replied to my driver, “WTF. Are there any details mate? Anyone hurt?” “Looks like some people might have been burnt, but no deaths reported yet” There’s no way I’m going to attempt travel on a Tube system that’s just experienced a terrorist attack. Hell, they’ll shut the whole system down. As it was, I could see the police response on the street as things were quickly




CONTACT Air Land & Sea – 2017 Yearbook

From left: ADA rep Alvaro Carvajal, Mark Donaldson VC, ADA CEO Matt Graham, CONTACT sniper contributor Jason Semple, Daniel Keighran VC and Managing Director LE Gear Mark Foote.

being locked down with numerous armed police pulling up in many key intersections and places of interest. The driver does a deal with me for 65pounds and delivers me safely to the airport with no further issues, my thoughts preoccupied with those on the train whose day was not so lucky. After a busy week at the Defence and Security Equipment International (DSEI) expo, where one of the driving forces for the show’s existence is prevention and aftermath of such attacks, this experience was surreal. Thankfully, on this occasion, the device was an amateur attempt at making a home-made binary-style explosive device, in a bucket of all things, and the attempt at causing significant damage and terror was diluted by incompetence. DSEI is a military and security trade show hosting more than 1600 exhibitors from around the world. The exhibition is no Shot Show as seen in the USA, and it does not boast the same attendance as in Las Vegas either. However, the 34,000 plus security-vetted people who do attend DSEI are more likely to hold a

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much more significant status, either from prime global companies or direct procurement into government agencies, police forces or a multitude of military organisations. DSEI showcases the latest equipment and systems across five sectors – air, land, naval, security and joint – covering the entire supply chain. One thing I did notice about DSEI was that everyone was in a suit, including me! I saw so many people from the industry who were dressed up rather than the usual blend of casual tactical wear and jeans that is more obvious at regular military and security shows around the globe. But hey, this is England and there are elevated standards, I suppose. Australia had a good presence at the show, primarily under the umbrella of Team Defence Australia. Team Defence Australia DSEI 2017 was headed by retired Air Marshall John Harvey as part of a Department of Defence initiative to support Australian business that supports our ADF. This year, Team Defence Australia was made up of 45 companies from around Australia, including; Armor Australia – ballistic-resistant armour solutions for military, law enforcement and civil markets using

materials such as advanced composites, ceramics, specialty steels, aluminium and ballistic glass. BMT – Ballistic Mechanical Testing – AustralianDefence-recognised supplier and industry-recognised leader in testing of armour. ADA – Australian Defence Apparel – responsible for the manufacture and supply of uniforms and equipment to Australia’s fighting forces through two world wars and many other conflicts, playing an instrumental role in creating what has become the iconic visual image of the Australian ‘digger’. Drone Shield – offering a complete system of products and services to help security teams defend against threats made possible by drone technology. Marathon Targets – autonomous robotic targets for live-fire target training. The benchmark in realistic combative training targetry, currently being rolled out in the ADF. EOS Defence Systems – remote weapon systems that can be operated by military crews while protected in their vehicles. Also sensor units using thermal imagery and laser rangefinder. Zone Products Australia – technology products to protect against drone threats including the ArbitorShield and C2 COTS platform. Team Defence Australia (TDA) operates the pavilion that hosts the Australian companies and basically covers much of the significant costs involved in showcasing a company at a show such as DSEI. Visiting dignitaries and VIPs are regularly walked through and introduced at the pavilion for exposure to Australian ingenuity and manufacturing. Marathon Targets CEO Alex Brooks said, “Europe is a big market and DSEI is a big show that attracts people from all over Europe, as well as representatives from the United States, offering opportunities for exports”. Personally, I was really impressed by the support TDA gave the companies in attendance. The day before opening, TDA hosted the 45 company delegations at Australia House and ran a comprehensive brief for all involved to ensure maximum success at the show. TDA is another example of how Australian DoD are running some very innovative concepts to assist Australian companies. Another example is Army Innovation Day (AID), which aims at getting access to new technologies quickly and without the stifling effects of bureaucracy. Representatives from Austrade were also present to provide assistance to Australian companies for export opportunities and the promotion of Australian trade in the global setting.


Thales Australia’s newest rifle is called the F90 for export, but is known in the Australian Defence Force as the EF88 (enhanced F88)

Another function at Australia House for all attendees was the ultimate in networking opportunities. Interestingly, Australia House is the oldest Australian diplomatic mission and it is the longest continuously occupied foreign mission in London. No doubt the true stars of Australian’s contingent were Mark Donaldson VC and Dan Keighran VC who were at DSEI as brand ambassadors for Australian Defence Apparel (ADA). CEO Matt Graham definitely had all eyes on ADA with two Victoria Cross recipients on hand to talk about products and meet customers. Both of these men are clearly very serious about ensuring that the ADF has the best equipment provided to its soldiers and that passion was evident watching them interact with all manner of people at the show, both VIP and not. Dan and Mark are very humble guys and readily show the aspects of their personalities that you’d expect from the calibre of a VC winner. Even though brand ambassadors for ADA, both men made sure they spent time with various companies of TDA in general, and were sought after by the many VIPs coming through the pavilion. As well as being decorated war hero’s, both men also bring an obvious formidable experience to bear when explaining various aspects of the equipment at hand.


Credibility is everything in this industry, and you don’t get much better than Mark and Dan. I also spent some time with Mark Foote from LEGEAR Australia – the leading supplier of law-enforcement, military, public-safety and outdoor products in Australia and New Zealand – checking out a few products when we could spare time. There is never enough time at these exhibitions to see all of the gear on display. Like Shot Show, you need to make a list and stick with it lest you be lost in the masses. Some of the standout companies and products at the show for me were; BeaverFit UK and their bespoke equipment, especially their new Advanced Shooting Platform. Aimpoint’s new CompM5 red-dot sight and FCS13RE Dynamic Universal Reflex Sight (DURS). Equivital Black Ghost personnel monitoring system. Mawashi’s Passive Exoskeleton. Sig Sauer’s new MCX Rattler discreet carbine option. Thales Australia’s F90 carbine. And various unmanned aerial/land/underwater systems.

Jason, Dan and Alvaro

Myself, Mark Donaldson and Mark Foote attended the BeaverFit demo held at the Royal Marines barracks in central London. BeaverFit provide bespoke functional fitness and training facilities to the military, uniformed services, professional sports clubs, educational establishments and more, globally. They also design and manufacture specialised Tactical Training facilities, which essentially are retrofitted shipping-container style configurations such as the Air Delivery Platform, Urban Assault Rig, Urban Climbing Rig, Method Of Entry Rig, Shoot Houses and mobile Advanced Shooting Platforms. BeaverFit equipment is cleverly made, high quality construction and gives the end user the ability to have transportable training structures of all sizes and configurations. One of their latest innovative designs that caught our eye was the Advanced Shooting Platform, which is basically a specialised shooting trailer configuration that allows numerous shooting conditions to be employed on any range with complete portability. The platform is mounted on a trailer and can be towed using regular vehicles. The Advanced Shooting Platform allows for a range of combative shooting techniques to be honed and

CONTACT Air Land & Sea – 2017 Yearbook

tested, along with specialised sniping activities, and would definitely be a great range addition for police and military units here in Australia. BeaverFit gear was super impressive. The development of exoskeletons for soldiers has been amazing over the past few years. The exoskeleton from Mawashi (sister company to Canadian giant Logistik) looks very impressive. And, while I got to manhandle the system on display, unfortunately it was configured for a smaller person than myself. But I was still very happy to get my hands on a tangible setup rather than what I’d previously only seen on-line. The Mawashi system is a passive exoskeleton, which means it does not rely on a power source to work effectively, and is designed purely to reduce metabolic expenditure and strain when carrying heavy loads. The system is known as UPRISE™ and transfers the load carried by the dismounted soldier from the upper vertebra to the lower limbs and ultimately to the ground. Along with heavy packs and equipment in conventional use, the system will also enable CT operators of the future to carry more personal armour protection without adding to their physical burden. DSTO has been looking at this system and no doubt value adding to its design.

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Human physical performance in the armed services and tactical world has always been of paramount importance to successful operational objectives and long-term functionality of personnel. Significant resources are now being provided to ensure these performance measures are continually maximised. Enter Black Ghost from equivital. I had an in depth look at the Black Ghost human monitoring systems in a live demo at the exhibition. The system provides an immediate insight into the performance and welfare of all personnel during a training or operational deployment. When tracked against baseline values, this data can be used to help monitor for heat stress and fatigue, highlight areas that need further development and contribute to longevity in operators. The system even highlights if the user is upright or prone, which works in conjunction with a fall alert. Each operator’s data is streamed to a central location such as a command post, and is also stored on the wearable device. I especially liked this equipment and the performance and training potential it provides. I will look at discussing related outcomes and the excellent results from Dr Rob Orr (ex ADF PTI) and his team at the Tactical Conditioning Unit (TRU) at Bond University in a future article.

The new amendments to the F90 rifle system look good. Thales are continuously making amendments to make the weapon system as good as it can be. The forward magazine gravity release system is an excellent addition to the rifle configuration. I spoke with Thales Director Integrated Weapons and Sensors Graham Evenden at the show and was given a full explanation of the new rifle. Graham and his team are committed to their products and it is great to see the rifle constantly evolving. If you truly want to get lost at a military show these days, go and look at all of the unmanned systems that are now available for literally every task you can devise. Prepare yourself for overload though as the development of airborne, land-based and underwater drones is evolving at an exponential rate and is not slowing down. Hopefully their use will be judicious and save many lives both on and off the battlefield. At the end of the day though, nothing beats boots on the ground, as we all know, so there definitely needs to be a careful balance of technology and human interaction on the battlefield and for security responses. DSEI will return to Docklands in London in 2019.





CHANGING How the Australian Army is

live-fire combat training

There can be little doubt that the Australian Army is looking very seriously at new and better ways for the Land Combatant to train and fight. Head Modernisation and Strategic Plans – Army, Major General Gus McLachlan (now Army’s Forces Commander) directed the Soldier Combat Systems Program in Army Headquarters to work with Army’s Functional Commands, the Combined Arms Training Centre, Brigades and Units, Australian Target Systems, Marathon Targets and Zero Latency to run a series of trials and risk-reduction activities that would set the conditions for the technologies, training methods and instructional 90

techniques to be institutionalised within Forces Command. The watershed moment occurred in December 2016, when a newly raised Combat Shooting Cell at the School of Infantry received the virtual torch from Special Forces. This new Combat Shooting Cell will be the hub from where new training will now be delivered to the wider organisation. This is the first step, with more to come. CONTACT interviewed Major Dan Harrison from Soldier Combat Systems – Army Headquarters, at the Combat Shooting Cell Risk Reduction Activity at Majura Range, Canberra, in December and

what he outlined sounded very exciting, with the following just a synopsis. Major Harrison said, “In the past 12 months, the Australian Army has been conducting a number of activities that will inform its needs and requirements for an institutionalised approach to combat shooting and the modernisation of soldier ammunition, targetry, training areas and ranges. There are eight trials and activities that are designed to modernise the way that the Army trains and fights using live-fire and combat shooting...” CONTACT Air Land & Sea – 2017 Yearbook


CONTEMPORARY TARGETRY AND EQUIPMENT The resistance to the close-range killing of one’s own species is so great that it is often sufficient to overcome the cumulative influences of the instinct for self-protection, the coercive forces of leadership, the expectancy of peers, and the obligation to preserve the lives of comrades… what is being trained in this environment is the ability to shoot reflexively and instantly and a precise mimicry of the act of killing on the modern battlefield. Every aspect of killing on the battlefield is rehearsed, visualised and conditioned. David Grossman, “On Killing” 2009. In conjunction with Australian Target Systems, the Australian Army is investing in the development of new targetry for appropriate phases in an individual’s training progression that is not only more realistic but enjoyable to use.

STEEL TRIAL A trial was conducted at SASR on targetry made of super-high hardness steel that disintegrates 5.56mm ball ammunition. This allows for steel target shooting at distances as close as 7m. Steel allows a firer to get very good, very quickly because of the instant feedback that it gives. A shooter can make corrections to the way they shoot without having to pause and look down at a visual display unit or walk downrange to inspect and patch a plastic target.

ROBOTIC MOVING TARGETRY In conjunction with Marathon Targets, the producers of the well-known T-30 robot target also in service with the US Marine Corps and developed here in Australia, Army is refining its requirements for using this targetry in the future. Complete with Artificial Intelligence that responds to stimuli, can talk and yell and provides a stimulus response when shot.


We should unashamedly aspire to be the best Army in the world, albeit not the biggest – Chief of the Australian Army, Lieutenant General Angus Campbell on the implementation of the Ryan Review into Army Training, Education and Doctrine Find, like, share on

In conjunction with Australian Target Systems and the School of Armour in Puckapunyal, the Australian Army is seeking to develop deployable and mobile targetry that will be suitable for the suite of new weapons and sensors that will become available through the Heavy Weapons Modernisation Project and Land 400 – the future Combat Reconnaissance Vehicle and Infantry Fighting Vehicle. 91




COMBAT RANGE IN A BOX In conjunction with Australian Target Systems, this capability has the ability to turn any range into a million-dollar combat shooting range with dual friend or foe twin turning targets, GPS guided moving targets and a complete intelligent range management system that allows users to create new types of range shoots within minutes.

IMMERSIVE SIMULATION In conjunction with Zero Latency, a recreational Virtual Reality Company in Melbourne that develops moving first person shooter scenarios, Army is investigating the use of this technology for immersive style training. This particular form of Virtual Reality has overcome many of the challenges with motion sickness associated with the technology.

FLYAWAY ACTIVITIES On establishing the Combat Shooting Cell at the School of Infantry, this new cell in conjunction with Australian Target Systems is trialling the ability for the complete combat shooting package to be exported to external training locations such as in combat brigades.

COMBAT SHOOTING CELL This activity formally transitioned the combat shooting skills developed within Special Operations Command, over the past 10 years, to the School of Infantry.

WHAT DID THE STUDENTS THINK? • “I cannot recommend this course highly enough. It develops confidence and demonstrates a teaching technique that is much more effective than I’ve previously experienced.” • “This course teaches ways of thinking, not simply skills.” • “The techniques enabled faster training and better retention of knowledge and skills”

...AND AN INSTRUCTOR “It gives students much more confidence in their abilities, a much higher level of confidence in their ability to pass on this information, and the motivation and the excitement to make their own soldiers the best they can be.” Corporal Mark Donaldson, VC

INFORMING OUR NEEDS FOR FUTURE RANGES AND TRAINING AREAS Army is investigating its needs with regards to optimised range facilities, in conjunction with the raft of trials and risk reduction activities currently underway. As the new Head Land Capability, Major General (Kath) Toohey replacing Major General (Gus) McLachlan has seen the training, the instructional techniques and these technologies first hand, and under the continuing direction of Brigadier Chris Mills, Director General Modernisation – Army will be well informed to make important decisions on their future growth paths. 92

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According to the Internet, Canadian-born Ken Murray co-invented Simunition, is passionate about realitybased training and is the Director of Training for the Armiger Police Training Institute ( near Orlando, Florida. What the Internet doesn’t say is that Ken Murray is a ‘force of nature’. I met him at a special-forces-run range activity at Majura military range complex in Canberra, during a lunch break. On first sight, he was tall and lean, shoulder-length white hair – and dressed in Aussie SF uniform, huddled with Aussie SF dudes. On introduction, I got my hand crushed, but still managed to extract and operate a recording device to capture the following ‘interview’ – in which Ken asked and answered the questions in a wonderfully engaging monologue that lasted almost exactly 30 minutes – edited and abridged as follows… Ken starts off by explaining the genesis of Simunition, the paint-marking training ammunition for real guns.


t was an interesting journey that started out as a dalliance with paintball, in Quebec, Canada. We took a bunch of girls – let them hang out by the pool – and the bunch of guys went and duked it out in the field. I thought this was so much fun I wanted to run one myself. So I thought, I’m just going to buy some paintballs. No you’re not, he said, they don’t exist, you can’t get them. It was a very, very tight market. I happened to encounter a guy who was making the only Canadian paintball gun that existed. As I do with anybody I really need something from, I made him my friend. Over philosophical beverages, we thought it would be interesting if we could do this with real guns given that we had enthusiasts from the police and military worlds coming out to the paintball fields and getting annihilated by weekend-warrior kids that had been doing it recreationally for a long time. Find, like, share on

This posed a really interesting question. How can these people with no tactical training or experience be annihilating people who were supposed to be the defenders of freedom? And, when we thought about it, there was a very simple answer – you just learn how to get out of the way of a projectile. None of the training that had been done up to that point taught us how to do that. From laser beams to the goofy standing shoulder-to-shoulder training that is still prevalent in police and military circles today, we’ve been missing the boat because we’ve been standing on the wrong dock for many, many years. So we thought, let’s do this, without understanding the technical challenges involved. We investigated everything from the candy industry to the makeup industry in trying to design a ballistically stable, light projectile that wouldn’t explode when you propelled it with an explosive charge. It was a huge technical challenge. But, long story short, we obviously overcame, and produced a disruptive technology that changed the way the world thought about what we could do with paintballs and guns. But then we ran head-on into organisational belief systems that say, “We have safety rules that prohibit us from pointing guns at anything we don’t intend to shoot or destroy. We’re in the serious business of teaching people how to use firearms safely and you’re violating our safety protocols. You need to get off my range and don’t come back”. But, how can you teach people to gunfight if you’re not going to gunfight? Adding a consequence – such as pain or competition – to gunfighting training simply helps us to emotionalise the experience in a way that’s never been done before. But, start talking like that in some circles and they think you’re crazy. Like any new technology, we had to get just a few people to invest themselves in the idea. The innovators 93




– if they’re the cool enough kids – are the one or two percenters who are going to do things despite the fact the technology is sub standard, just because they want to be first. In our world, when we’re talking about innovators, we’re talking about special-operations organisations, like Seals. Then come the early adopters, the ones who look at what the innovators are doing and say, “That’s interesting, I want to try that too”. My first breakthrough was on a Marine Corps base, down around Norfolk, Virginia, where I caught the attention of some counter-intelligence guy who said, “That’s a fun technology. We have no need for it, but I think I know a guy who might be interested”. He walked me right in the back door to some Seal Team Six ops-research guy who sat in a cubical. On his little corkboard, there was a cartoon of a king in his armoury, with chipped swords and broken helmets and shattered shields. His knight is knocking on the door, with a guy in a shiny suit with an M60 machine gun, saying, “Sire, there’s a weapons salesman here to see you”. The king doesn’t even turn around, and says, “Tell him to piss off, can’t you see I’m getting ready for war”. Underneath, the Seal Team guy had written, “Never be too busy to see the next cool thing”. So, he said, “Show me the next cool thing”. We had found our innovator. Now for the early adopters – which were the Seal Teams and the Ranger battalions. Then we moved up from SWAT teams to more advanced police – our ‘early majority’ – then ‘late majority’ – and it started to tip. When it started to tip, big personalities starting to take over and started doing stupid things with it. “Of course we stand here shoulder to shoulder. We can’t move one person ahead of the next person. That’s dangerous. We’ve got bullets and we’ve got fields of fire and arcs we need to concern ourselves with. It’s doctrinal.” So now we decided we needed to teach too. I started developing training schools on how to effectively use these technologies. What we were able to convince people of was that conventional munitions require so much structure and order around them that they get in the way of realistic gunfighter behaviours. Many of the things we program people to do on the range will get in the way of what you need them to do in combat. But, with non-consequential technologies, you can start working in 360-degree realistic environments. I discovered that I’m an accidental psychologist, because what we’re really doing is playing around with the internal workings of the experiential mind of human beings. That means that because the way the fear mind works, if we horrify people in the beginning then we’re creating phobias. 94

We come into this world with four innate fears – loud noises, sudden approach, falling and smothering. That’s it. A baby who knows nothing will react to these four stimuli, and not much else. In traditional training, when we start dealing in the armed or combative arts, we’re activating a super phobia of a lot of the things we actually want people to do in combat. Think in terms of dog training. There’s two types of dogs that will bite you, a good, aggressive, well-trained dog, and a fear biter. A good, well-trained dog, I can send, I can recall, I can stop in place, I can have him play with my kids. With a fear biter, you can’t do that. They’re unpredictable, they won’t go when you send them, they won’t return when you call them, they’ll bite anybody and I sure as hell wouldn’t trust them with my kids. In the military and law enforcement community, we’ve been creating a lot of fear biters unintentionally, and we need to be cautious about that. Here in Australia, we’ve just got through the early adopter stage and now we’re teaching in the innovator stage. Because combat shooting is just a small piece of warfighter optimisation, using the philosophies that we’re trying to instil in the instructor cadre here at this activity at Majura Range will work whether you’re a paper pusher or a fighter pilot, because we’re teaching people how to think. We can teach people how to win physically, but are they going to win socially? Are we going to win the Twitter war? Are we going to win the media war? Are we going to win the social battle where we now have to go and justify to our society what it is we’re doing? Why it is that we’re spending their tax dollars in this way and why is it that we’re putting their sons and daughters in jeopardy? Are we going to win morally and ethically? Or are we just going to be a bunch of conquerors? Are we going to win psychologically or are we going to bring people back from overseas as broken individuals? In America, they’ve got something called Project 22, where they recognise that 22 soldiers a day are murdering themselves in the wake of all the things they’ve encountered down range, and coming back to a system that doesn’t support them. That is absolutely incomprehensible to me and it must change. But it has to first change in the training realm and it has to change at the doctrinal level. How do we prepare our soldiers to do something and then not support them when they do? That has to change on a societal level. We need to win financially, which means we’re not spending all of our money down there and going bankrupt doing it. We need to apply the correct dollars CONTACT Air Land & Sea – 2017 Yearbook

for the correct tool to do the correct job and know that people have a job when they come back. We’re taking the seven survival skills approach to creating this optimised war fighter and this little idea we’re now working on and bringing industry and military and our social partners together on, is going to take us into that innovator phase. We know it works – we’ve done it on the micro level with organisations like Seal Team Six and SASR. The big question is, can we now export this to larger army? The belief system suggests that we can’t because the people are too stupid. Well, who’s creating the stupid people? Our society in many ways because we’re creating a bunch of ADD kids with 160 characters to communicate with. Then, as soon as they get off the bus at every boot camp I’ve seen, we’re scaring the shit out of them by screaming and chasing them around with an anxiety stick, and then wonder why they’re scared of guns. One of the first things they see before they get to touch a gun is the ‘guns are horrifying’ video, instead of, “Hey here’s something that won’t hurt you if you use it right. There’s nothing about this thing that’s going to hurt you if you know what you’re doing. Let’s take it apart, lets fuck around with it, let’s see what it does”. They’re going to learn how to not do this or that so that it doesn’t go bang when we don’t want it to, or when we do want it to that it’s pointed in the right direction. Then we’ll put it into a contextual setting so that we build this thing up until we can move, shoot, communicate. Then we can test it at a higher level, putting a lot more emotional content in there. But if we don’t think about it at the innovator phase and start moving it through the larger organisational phase, where they might resist it just for the sake of resistance, how do we get this out to our sons and daughters to make sure we’re creating the best warfighters in the world? Reality-based training is a modality that we use to replicate in a simulation realm – in a pretend environment – the things we want them to do operationally, safely, out in the battlefield, in a riskseeking environment. If we create a risk-adverse personality and send them into a risk-seeking environment, we’re putting them in harms way, and society by extension. That’s kind of what this whole thing is about. We’re so acclimated to an arranged environment where ‘that’ is down range in training – but, what’s ‘down range’ in an operational environment? All of it, everywhere, right? There’s a great video I encourage you to watch. Google it. It’s called the Backwards Bicycle with Dustin Chandler. He’s a rocket scientist. His engineers decided Find, like, share on

to play a trick on him, so they created a bicycle that when you turn the handlebars to the right, it went left and turn to the left and it went right. Chandler thought, “This will be easy, I’ll just think my way through it”. It took him eight months at five minutes a day to learn how to ride a backwards bicycle. But the sick thing about it was, once he could ride the backwards bicycle, he had forgotten how to ride a regular bike. We have in our head, neurologically wired-in patterns and the more we do something through repetition, the deeper the pattern goes. What you learn in training is what you will automatically fall back on under pressure. Then if we add belief system on top of that… If you have some old crusty warrant officer who doesn’t believe that we can create thinking soldiers – who’d rather his soldiers did what they’re told rather than think for themselves – then he ends up chasing them around with an anxiety stick. But you can’t learn that way. It actually shuts your brain down to learning. There is no value in it. In fact there’s negative value and you’re going to humiliate people and they’re not going to want to learn. But, if you understand an equation and appreciate the process, you can get into more complex equations, more complex thinking. Likewise, if you’re trying to instil a fitness personality in somebody, why make the gym a miserable place to go? Show me the training value in that. On the range, if you make it a bad place to be – fill shooters with anxiety – you’re going to break people for the range. Old thinking is, “We need to create tough people”. Well, resilience doesn’t mean throwing them in the deep end with no swimming lessons. You’re going to drown people that way. While you might have 1 or 2 per cent who will figure out, splashing around, how to save themselves, that’s only your 1-percenter people. Heraclitus said that out of every 100 people in combat, 10 shouldn’t really be there, 80 are just targets, 9 are good fighters and we’re lucky to have them for they the battle make – ah but the one – one is a warrior and we must find him, for he shall bring the others back. You could take the nine and the one, give them a DVD, some weapons and some ammunition and they’d come out in a few weeks as pretty good warfighters. The 10, they really shouldn’t be here and we need to find a filtering process to not let them put themselves – and us by extension – in harms way. It’s the 80 that concern me. The 80 are the ones that we’re wrecking from day one as soon as we get them off the bus at Kapooka and start chasing them around with a fucking swagger stick. 95




You go down to most conventional firearms ranges and you’re having people scream out, turn left, turn right, fire this, fire that. All they’re doing is following directions. That’s drill. They’re not teaching them warfighter behaviours. In fact they’re scaring the shit out of people with guns in a contextual setting. That makes it even worse. Using the methodologies we’re using here at Majura this month really does create someone who thinks their way through a problem. Today, for example, we’re practicing a lesson that involves moving a VIP across an open area. They get contact from above, they start shooting. First time they ran through this they grabbed the VIP, pushed forward to the container they were getting shot at from and hunkered in place. So we pressed the pause button and asked, what are you thinking right now? This was the nearest available cover they said. What’s your goal? we asked. Protect the VIP they said. So, is your goal to engage these bad guys or to get the VIP out of here? What was your last known safe place? Back there where the vehicles are. Okay. So you’re still in a risky position and the bad guys know where you are and they own this terrain. So, does it make sense hunkering here? No. Okay, so let’s try it a different way. Now they are thinking. In the old way, we probably would have stood there and yelled, “You idiots. You just put these guys in jeopardy. You go to your room and think about what you’ve done.” That way, you’ve practiced failure, painted it with shame and made them think about failure

over and over again. Show me the training value in that. If we can create thinking soldiers through emotionally and intellectually engaging and not fear-producing responses, then we can actually wire in future behaviours. There’s no shelf life on experience. You’ve at least heard of if not experienced the idea of your life flashing before your eyes in a critical incident. That’s your brain in high-speed retrieval mode, searching through your experiences, looking for something in your past to bring forward to save your life in this moment. If the only thing you’ve got in the past is getting chased around by some prick with an anxiety stick and told what a worthless soldier you are, that’s the thing you’re brain will retrieve. Through the old methods, we’re actually creating more of the ‘10 and 80 people’ and losing the ‘nine and one’ people. But there’s a process for fixing that. That’s what we are trying to do here. This is where it all begins. This is the concept the Australian Army is now reconciling with. No professional sports franchise would do it any other way – and we are a professional sports franchise. And, as the biggest professional sports franchise in the country, preparing our elite athletes for the super bowl, we have an obligation, a moral and a legal obligation to prepare our people with the best neuroscience, the best trainers, with the best technology money can buy. Even if it costs more and takes more time. Right? But – here’s the cool part – it doesn’t. It costs less and it takes less time. But the thing is, we need to concentrate those dollars

on the front end, not the back end. And we need to think differently about how we’re doing things in an organisation that’s not good at change. We have to challenge doctrine that exists in binders where the pages were written by people who still exist inside the organisation – and we have to rip those pages out when those same authors are wearing a lot more rank on their sleeves. So, how do we get past that? Do we have to wait for those people to move on? Do we have to wait for our society to collapse before we change the way we protect it? Or can we change little bits over time? We make small changes as we get through the innovators, to the early adopters to the early majority, and eventually to the late majority – until “that’s just the way it is done around here”. Meanwhile, we need to either bring the people who have resisted us back into the fold and prove to them that this is the better way – or we send them in the direction of the tar pit. Because, if the idea of military modernisation is simply putting new paint on a catapult, that’s stupid. Our job is to think our way through this. For the seven years I’ve been involved in this organisation, I couldn’t be prouder than to see exactly what’s happening now and where we are with this trial period. When the Australian Army gets this right, they’re going to make you famous and tell this story all over the planet – about how you can take an idea like this, adapt and model it, and turn it loose on an organisation – for its own protection.

CONTACT Editor Brian Hartigan gets some coaching from WO1 Wayne Weeks – a legend in the shooting fraternity. 96

CONTACT Air Land & Sea – 2017 Yearbook

New zealand’s new

Service Rifle After extensive trials, the New Zealand Defence Force has dumped the Australian-made Steyr in favour of an AR-15-type service rifle – the MARS-L 5.56mm assault rifle, made in the USA by Lewis Machine & Tool Co. Lewis Machine & Tool was officially named the preferred tenderer in the NZDF’s Individual Weapon Replacement Programme, which evaluated suitable weapons from eight different companies.

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The NZ$59 million purchase includes 5568 MARS-L rifles for issue across the services, a further 3472 held in pool for spares, repairs and deployments, plus a range of ancilliary equipments including, 4x ACOG sights, night sights, laser ranging equipment, 40mm grenade launchers, silencers and torches. The transition from the Steyr, which has been in service since 1987, started in earnest in April this

year and is expected to take about 18 months to fully complete. MARS-L – Modular Assault Rifle System-Light – features adjustable butstock length and four Piccatinny rails. The New Zealand Defence Force claims that, in conjunction with the 4xACOG sight, the official effective range of the MARS-L is 600m, as opposed to an official rating of 300m for the Steyr.



AAFC was recently awarded a National Award Unit Licence by the Duke of Edinburgh’s International Award, which will benefit both organisations, and especially the youth of Australia, Group Captain (AAFC) Mark Dorward, Commander of the Australian Air Force Cadets, said. “AAFC is only the second organisation in Australia granted a national licence for the Duke of Edinburgh’s International Award,” he said. “Although we’ve been involved with the Award for more than 30 years, there has been some disparity between each of the States. “We are the fourth-largest provider of the Duke of Edinburgh’s International Award in the nation, and now, following a successful audit, conduct and management of the program during a provisional arrangement granted last December, this national licence will greatly improve coordination between our two organisations, as well as deliver cost savings which will benefit our members.” “The AAFC is able to provide the program to our members around Australia at a single charge of only $110 per level per person while operating from just one set of rules (The Duke of Edinburgh’s International Handbook) instead of relying on State interpretations of what the award will and won’t accept.” More than 600 Air Force cadets are currently participating in Duke of Edinburgh Awards.


Further information on Cadets can be found at

416ACU really does give a t oss Home to the world-famous Tuna Toss, the Port Lincoln Tunarama Festival is held annually on the closest weekend to the Australia Day holiday in January – and local Army Cadets were there in force this year. With a wide array of participation events, arts and cultural displays, local market stalls, and some of the freshest seafood in the world, there truly is something for the whole family to enjoy! Port Lincoln-based 416 Army Cadet Unit certainly thought so, preparing their own float to participate in the Port Lincoln Community Bank Street Procession.

One of the highlights of the Festival and an event not to miss – The Port Lincoln community go to great lengths decorating themselves and their floats to showcase the many local business and community groups in the procession. It is always colourful and fun, and often very professional as

entrants vie for best float. This year included some floats from community arts, sporting clubs, local business groups – and 416 Army Cadet Unit. The procession took place at 12 noon, 28 January 2017. Cadet Sergeant Cameron Veraart sent us the photo above from inside the heart of the action.

Anything for recruitment At this year’s Mount Barker Show in the Adelaide Hills, Australian Air Force Cadets from No 602 Squadron ran an information and recruiting stand – and, in the spirit of ‘participating in community events’, one young cadet found himself well outside the bounds of ‘normal’ cadet duties.

6 Wing Public Affairs and Communication Officer Pilot Officer (AAFC) Paul Rosenzweig said, “Participating in community activities helps Air Force Cadets learn self-discipline and teamwork, and gives them a sense of pride and belonging”. “It also gives them opportunities they might never have considered,” he said

CONTACT Air Land & Sea – 2017 Yearbook

Future leader courses By Pilot Officer (AAFC) Paul Rosenzweig Cadets of all three branches completed a range of promotion courses over December and January with successful cadets now ready to take on increased leadership responsibilities. No 6 Wing Air Force Cadets from South Australia and Mildura conducted their courses at RAAF Edinburgh, with incoming Commander Australian Air Force Cadets, Group Captain (AAFC) Mark Dorward, reviewing their end-ofcourse parade on 14 January – his first official engagement since assuming command. Full-time, intensive leadership training courses such as those conducted during the summer school holidays give cadets skills in leadership and decisionmaking, initiative, self-discipline, time-management, public speaking, management and administration, and operational planning. In particular, graduates of the Cadet Warrant Officer and Cadet Under Officer promotion courses qualify for award of the national TAFE Certificate III in Business Administration.

“One young cadet was asked by organisers to help out because they couldn’t fill the numbers for the goatmilking contest. One observer said, “He did not walk away, he stood up in front of a welcoming crowd, and did himself and fellow Cadets proud”. In case Leading Cadet Aiden Carling’s milking wasn’t enough, the Cadets’ recruiting effort was also supported by an ASK-21 Mi two-seater glider display by No 600 (Aviation Training) Squadron from RAAF Edinburgh.

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Above: CFSGT Kyle Roberts, 609 Sqn, Warradale Barracks, dux of the Cadet Under Officer Course, leads the end-ofcource parade. Left: CFSGT Kelsey Wurfel, 601 Sqn, Keswick Barracks, receives the perpetual trophy for dux of the Cadet Warrant Officer Course from GPCAPT (AAFC) Mark Dorward.

Leading Cadet Aiden Carling, 602 Squadron, AAFC, shows skills beyond the aviation field.

Just promoted and therefore still wearing old rank slides – from left CCPL Shannon McKee, CSGT Josef Gerstenmayer, CSGT Lachlan Turlan and CUO Jacob Adolph.

Speci al Oz Day Air Force Cadets of No 6 Wing were on parade or on duty for Australia Day again this year, demonstrating strong commitment to their communities. While many cadets supported events in Adelaide and throughout rural SA, there were also two interstate events worthy of mention. First, Air Force Cadets from No 623 Sqn supported a Flag Raising Ceremony in Nowingi Place hosted by the Mildura Regional City Council. Also, in the NT, former

South Australian Air Force Cadet Lincoln Teagle of No 608 (Town of Gawler) Sqn was announced as the 2017 Young Citizen of the Year in the Nhulunbuy Corporation Local Government Citizenship awards. Among the cadets on duty at Mildura were Lachlan Turlan and Josef Gerstenmayer who both won prizes on recent promotion cources, and both of whom were promoted to cadet sergeant just before Australia day. Big congratulations to all.



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Ghost of Parafield p ast Story and photos by Pilot Officer (AAFC) Paul Rosenzweig

Australian Air Force Cadets from Adelaide’s northern squadrons were recently given the opportunity to fly a Trial Instructional Flight – what the AAFC calls a Pilot Experience Flight. A total of 30 future pilots took this free opportunity to fly a Tobago TB10 from Parafield Airport, and were awarded certificates by the service provider, Flight Training Adelaide. However, for one of those cadets, it was an special extra opportunity to honour her great-grandfather, just as she had done three weeks earlier during the Anzac Eve Youth Vigil in Gawler, South Australia, and also as a member of the Catafalque Party for the Gawler Anzac Day Dawn Service. Cadet Corporal Courtney Semmler’s maternal great-grandfather Laurence Vivian Wotzko (19111942) also flew out of Parafield Airfield and received his clearances and instructions from the very same control tower that his great-granddaughter received her clearance to take off 75 years later. Laurence Wotzko was an Aircraftman (Flight Rigger) with No 2 Squadron RAAF on the outbreak of

Cadet Corporal Courtney Semmler’s great-grandfather Laurence Vivian Wotzko (circled).


World War 2, but re-mustered as an Airman Pilot and was ultimately commissioned. Most notably, Flying Officer Wotzko was a Flying Instructor at No 1 Elementary Flying Training School (1EFTS) at Parafield Airfield between 1 December 1940 and 16 May 1942 – where his great-granddaughter Courtney took her first flight. Parafield control tower was built in 1940 and is a fine example of art deco architecture from the era. This same control tower, now run by Airservices Australia, still provides air traffic control functions for Parafield Airport (YPPF) today. From this same tower 75 years later, Laurie Wotzko’s great-granddaughter, a Cadet Corporal in the Australian Air Force Cadets and a Gold Award participant with The Duke of Edinburgh’s International Award, received her clearance to depart on her first ever Pilot Experience Flight. Quite appropriately, it was Mother’s Day – and she flew in tribute to both her great-grandfather and also her Nanna, Laurie Wotzko’s only daughter, who had been born on 3 April 1942 and was aged just 4 months when her father died in a flying accident. From 1EFTS, Laurie Wotzko briefly served at Tamworth, and then returned to South Australia on 8 June 1942 as a Flying Instructor with No 6 Service Flying Training School at Mallala. Tragically, he and seven other airmen died in a training accident south-east of Murray Bridge on 4 August 1942 when two Avro Anson aircrew trainers collided during a daytime training exercise and crashed into the Murray River near Monteith. The deaths were classed as operational, and so the names of the eight men are honoured in the Commemorative Area at the Australian War Memorial under the title ‘Air Training Schools’ (panels 115, 116 and 117). Flying Officer Wotzko’s name is also included on the Sydney Memorial and on the Adelaide WWII Roll

Cadet Corporal Courtney Semmler stands before the control tower her great-grandfather received instructions from 75 years earlier, before receiving her own clearances from the same tower, before taking off for her first flight.

of Honour beside the South Australian National War Memorial on North Terrace. Flying Officer Wotzko’s war service in Australia was recognised by the award of the War Medal 1939-1945 and Australia Service Medal 1939-1945. His widow, Mavis Wotzko received the silver Mothers’ and Widows’ Badge from the Commonwealth Government, with a bronze star to denote the death of her husband whilst on service. His only daughter – Courtney’s Nanna – is today very proud of the newest aviator in the family.

CONTACT Air Land & Sea – 2017 Yearbook

CADET TEAM C HALLENGE By Lieutenant Colonel Christopher Holcroft South Queensland’s team leader for this year’s Chief of Army Cadet Team Challenge, Cadet Under Officer Mahala Karan, believes good preparation helped get her team into the winner’s circle. Cadet Under Officer Karan, 17, from 12 Army Cadet Unit’s 13 Battalion based in South Brisbane/Gold Coast Region said her 10-member team had three weekends consolidating and expanding their cadet knowledge at Enoggera Barracks before heading to Puckapubyal in Victoria, to compete against teams from all over Australia. “We had selection for the Cadet Team Challenge involving activities like first aid, navigation and quickdecision exercises over three weekends,” CUO Karan said. “These definitely prepared us for most of the Challenge – except when we arrived in Puckapunyal, it was so cold.” CUO Karan said she and other teams from northern climes were issued puffer jackets to help/try keep warm throughout the event. “One of the other first things we noticed was how formal and proper the other teams were and we then realised we were in a serious competition,” CUO Karan said. Nine teams representing each Australian Army Cadet Brigade and Battalions from around Australia vied for their most significant annual award at the Puckapunyal Military Area over a gruelling two-day, three-night event in in-hospitable weather. The CACTC cadets were assessed on a range of skills including field navigation, firearm handling, shooting (WTSS) and knowledge, use of radios, first aid and patient management, obstacle courses, field engineering, water obstacle, leadership and problem solving. Cadet teams each comprised 10 young men and women and were drawn from units across their State or territory. The cadets underwent rigorous military-style training in their units before their participation in the Challenge. “My team found the navigation event one of the hardest parts of the Challenge,” CUO Karan said. “We had just come off the obstacle course and the water activity and were quite exhausted.

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“Sitting down to do a written exam for navigation was then very challenging.” Chief of Army Lieutenant General Angus Campbell reviewed and presented awards at a parade of more than 500 cadets – including the participating teams from the CACTC and cadets from across Victoria (part of the Victoria AAC Brigade) who were also at Puckapunyal participating in separate courses and promotions camp. CUO Karan said that when it was announced on parade that her team had won the Challenge it was ‘quite a surreal moment’ for her. She listened to the bulk of the teams being named as Bronze winners and thought how ‘insane’ it would be if her team won the top prize. “Cadets from Victoria took out the Silver award and then it all turned crazy when it sunk in how our amazing team had actually won the challenge,” CUO Karan said. “It was phenomenal to shake the Chief of Army’s hand and realise our hard work had paid off.” The Australian Army Cadets is a leading national youth development organisation, with the character and values of the Australian Army, founded on strong community partnership, fostering and supporting an ongoing interest in the Australian Army. There are around 16,000 Army Cadets ranging in age from 13 to 18 years in around 220 units across all States and territories of Australia. During the parade, Lieutenant General Campbell presented awards to the participating teams of the CACTC – as well as to students of merit from the Victoria AAC Brigade courses camp: Junior Leader Course student of merit: Cadet Corporal Jake Morrow, 30 ACU Senior Leader Course student of merit: Cadet Corporal Marlize Wessels, 305 ACU CUO/WO student of merit: Cadet Sergeant William Phillips, 312 ACU Instructor of merit: CUO Mark Thornton, 305 ACU Signals CSE student of merit: Cadet Lance Corporal Jackson Kompler, 37 ACU First aid and navigation Course student of merit: Cadet Corporal Joni Grundy, 301 ACU Robotics Course student of merit: Cadet Lance Corporal Cailum Mazzanti, Beaconhills College ACU


CONTACT Air Land & Sea is dedicated to presenting stories, photos and video that capture the essence of serving-members’ lives, as far as possible in their own words. CONTACT Air Land & Sea blog is our internet-based headquarters where we publish daily news and other interesting, related items. We also use Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Pinterest and YouTube as ’embassies’ where we engage our audience, inviting them back to our headquarters. CONTACT Air Land & Sea newsletter is a free fortnightly email that draws attention to recent news stories. Its intent is to bring readers the best of the previous fortnight in a handy-reference format, linking back to the original story in our headquarters (web site) – and updating subsequent developments to older stories. CONTACT Air Land & Sea magazine is a high-quality, full-colour, features-based magazine published four times per year. Initially launched in March 2004 as a traditional paper-based magazine, it switched to digital in 2013. It is now only available by (free) subscription. Blog: Facebook: Email: Mail: PO Box 3091, Minnamurra, NSW 2533

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CONTACT Yearbook 2017  

The CONTACT Yearbook 2017 is a hard-cover coffee-table book available for purchase from

CONTACT Yearbook 2017  

The CONTACT Yearbook 2017 is a hard-cover coffee-table book available for purchase from