Australian Army soldiers from the 1st Battalion, The Royal Australian Regiment and the 2nd Cavalry Regiment, patrol a track during the combined arms training activity at Cowley Beach Training Area, Queensland on 02 November 2021.

The Australian Army’s Combat Training Centre (CTC) have successfully reinvented jungle training at Tully with teams of combined-arm soldiers taught to survive and thrive in the jungle, mountains, coastal and urban terrain typical of Australia’s near region.

In the new RCT Warfighter Exercise conducted in the dense jungle near Tully, troops from the 1st Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment’s (1RAR) Ready Combat Team (RCT) – roled as the Air Mobile Combat Team of the Australian Amphibious Force (AAF) – completed a range of missions including reconnaissance, patrolling, rural village clearances, ambushing, attacks and defensive actions. 

Private Lucas Hinselwood, recently returned from non-combat evacuation operations (NEO) in Afghanistan, said the variety in complex training environments ensured their combat team was ready for any situation.

“It’s been a good change going from the NEO Operation straight into the jungle environment, which practises our adaptability and our capabilities as well,” he said.

Private Hinselwood, who had stepped-up as second-in-command, credited his section for their cohesion and resilience throughout the exercise.

“They did an absolute cracking job working through the complex clearance; it’s been hot and raining, not the best conditions, but during hard times the section came together and kept up morale,” he said.

“Being a brand new section and watching how far we have come from the start of the exercise to where we are now, it’s really good and I’m confident about where we’re headed.”

Following the initial deployment to the mountains, dense jungle and rural villages in Tully, 1RAR RCT air assaulted via the 5th Aviation Regiment’s MRH90 Taipan helicopter to link up with M1 Abrams tanks from the notional AAF to practise combined-arms tactics in the close coastal country and urban villages.

Officer in Command of the inaugural Regional Warfighting, CTC’s Major Daniel Farrands stressed the importance of varying the training environment to best practise the agility, resilience and cohesion of Army’s rapidly deployable combat teams.

“We’ve already noticed the soldiers making a mental shift in the way they apply general tactics within these environments, and that in itself demonstrates they will be more adaptable and can easily transition from one terrain type to the other,” Major Farrands said.

Officer in Charge of 1RAR’s C Company, Major Matthew Hamill, said he was keen to have his soldiers use a range of combined-arms elements throughout the exercise.

“The addition of armoured and aviation assets provided a great opportunity for our personnel to integrate and train closely with those elements that we don’t see on a day-to-day basis,” Major Hamill said.

Observing the warfighter exercise, Commander of the 1st Division Major General Jake Ellwood, and Commander of the Amphibious Task Group Designate Captain (Navy) Phillipa Hay, were impressed to see the RCT setting a foundation for future joint force exercises.

“This is really important training and it’s a great first step. Moving into next year these combined-team operations will then bring together our amphibious platforms to undertake ship-to-shore manoeuvre followed by high-end warfighting,” Major General Ellwood said.

“It’s fantastic to see teams coming together and learning how they would fight in a littoral environment.”

Captain Hay was pleased to see the landmark exercise displaying the ADF’s advancement towards training in complex amphibious environments. 

“It’s important that the ADF has a full range of capabilities that are deployable and supportable in the near region,” Captain Hay said.

“We need to take every opportunity we can to make sure that we are training the way we’re going to fight and today is a demonstration of that.”

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