Issue 13
March 2007

64 Pages This Issue

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CONTACT Air Land & Sea

In 2005, more than 8000 foreign fishing vessels were sighted in the waters off Australia's northern coast. Official reports say that in the first half of the year alone, more than 100 illegal vessels were detected within sight of land. Worse still, the NT Government concedes that several foreign vessels have actually landed in remote areas and their crews have set up camp on Australian soil.
Given that the coastline of the Northern Territory alone spans more than 10,000km, the ongoing challenges faced by border-patrol agencies in maintaining effective surveillance of our sovereign shores is significant. -- North West Mobile Force plays a crucial role...

Words Gunner Shannon Joyce
Pics Gunner Shannon Joyce


CONTACT Air Land & Sea

As the RAAF C130J Hercules thunders down the dusty gravel runway in Tarin Kowt, Afghanistan, I swing between sadness and excitement - sad to be leaving a 'fair-dinkum operation with your mates', but excited to be heading west and heading into who-knows-what.
Operations in Iraq have somewhat overshadowed those in Afghanistan for a long time, and prolific media attention has not painted a pretty picture.

Words Brian Hartigan
Pics Brian Hartigan
This story is packaged for sale with Pt 1&3 in issue 14


CONTACT Air Land & Sea

The Irish Defence Forces make up the main body of the Force Quick Reaction Force (FQRF) of the United Nations' Mission in Liberia (UNMIL). The current six-month rotation of the 330-strong, 96th Irish Infantry Battalion is drawn from the 4th Western Brigade, in the west of Ireland.

Words Captain Eoin McGeeney
Pics Irish Defence Forces


CONTACT Air Land & Sea

When the powers presiding over the Army's rather long-winded Land 17 Replacement Artillery project decided in early 2006 that the requirement for a self-propelled howitzer (SPH) needed to be amended to better reflect operational realities and threat levels, those SPH systems that had previously been the project front-runners were suddenly ejected from the game.

Words Mark Azzopardi


CONTACT Air Land & Sea

Over the past 10 to 15 years, force-on-force tactical training has significantly improved the quality of small-team training within the law-enforcement and military communities.

Words Chris Burton
Pics XTEK


CONTACT Air Land & Sea - Somalia

Our time marched on in the Baidoa AO. We had been in country for several months and things had settled down into a fairly predictable schedule of patrols, raids and VCPs. While we were still working pretty hard, it seemed there was little left that we hadn't already seen or done, and what was once extraordinary was now becoming routine.
To say we had become complacent would be incorrect. We were too disciplined and motivated to allow that sort of serious decline in our attitude. We were aware that Somalia still held lurking dangers, but familiarity breeds contempt and, in my case at leasst, a little arrogance...

Words Wayne Cooper
Pics Supplied by Wayne Cooper, and ADF


Plus...

  • Free poster - MRH90
  • Op Slipper - winter patrols
  • Incoming? - Super Hornets
  • Recoilless Technology
  • Letters to the Editor
  • The Big Picture
  • Heads up

Plus our regular columns;

    • Military Fitness by Don Stevenson and Military Self Defence by Major Travis Faure
    • Just Soldiers by WO1 Darryl Kelly
    • Letters from the front by Private Henry Wright
    • Games reviews by Sapper Gameboy
    • and competition giveaways - including Silent Hunter 4; Wolves of the Pacific - and Medieval II; Total War

WO1 Scoff Cootes

 

Australia's first ever Star of Gallantry - second only to the Victoria Cross - has been awarded to a sergeant from the Sydney-based 4th Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment (Commando).

Words Brian Hartigan
Pics ADF

In issue #13 we covered this and several other awards, but did not have the space for all. So, here (right) are the abridged extra citations promised in the hard-copy magazine...

Sergeant A - Star of Gallantry
For conspicuous gallantry in action, and leadership.
During the conduct of an operation in southern Afghanistan in 2006, a combined coalition force conducted a direct-action mission against a target in Oruzgan Province.
Upon insertion, the assault force, provided by another Coalition partner, was surrounded and suffered two wounded and one killed in action.
A commando reaction force was deployed to assist by securing a helicopter landing zone and covering their withdrawal. As Sergeant A's section was the lead element of the commando reaction force, he received the most intense weight of enemy fire.
At the landing zone, the commandos came under immediate heavy fire from rockets and small arms, from multiple flanks. The commandos held the position, under fire, for more than an hour.
Sergeant A was responsible for securing the northern flank, repelling a number of assaults while being engaged from ranges as close as 50m.
After the extraction was complete, the commandos began their return to base. The enemy anticipated this and had prepared a series of ambushes. Critically, Sergeant A's vehicle was the first to be engaged at each ambush location. In each instance, he led his section to assault and clear opposition from the route, in rapid and aggressive counter attacks, despite frequent heavy fire.
On one occasion, with absolute disregard for his own safety, Sergeant A conducted an assault on a machinegun position not more than 30m to his front.
On at least two other occasions, while being engaged from positions as close as 5m, and receiving multiple bullet strikes on his vehicle, Sergeant A was forced to fight his way through ambushes by driving directly through the killing ground, which he did without hesitation.
Through outstanding leadership and composure under fire, Sergeant A led the commandos through several ambushes without injury.


Corporal B - Medal for Gallantry
For gallantry and leadership in action.
During an operation, Corporal B's commando platoon was tasked to carry out the clearance of an anti-coalition militia sanctuary in the Oruzgan Province, Afghanistan. The platoon was partnered in support of a Coalition infantry company, which came under heavy rocket-propelled-grenade and small-arms fire on multiple flanks resulting in six wounded and one soldier killed in action, effectively halting their advance.
Through thick vegetation, facing large numbers of dispersed enemy and under heavy fire, the commando platoon commenced manoeuvring to provide assistance to the element pinned down. During this move, the commando platoon received a volley of four rockets that impacted in the centre of its position, resulting in six Australian soldiers wounded in action. Corporal B was wounded in the foot.
To regain the initiative, Corporal B's team was tasked to assault forward and clear a group of compounds from which they were receiving fire. Under daunting conditions, Corporal B completed a rapid and aggressive clearance of numerous compounds.
Throughout the afternoon, numerous and relentless probing attacks by a determined enemy followed. Corporal B displayed extraordinary leadership and courage, inspiring his team and the remainder of the platoon to repel the attacks.
He then successfully led a team to infiltrate enemy-held territory, killing several militia.
Only after the engagement had been completed, Corporal B informed his Commander of his wound.


Sergeant C - Medal for Gallantry
For gallantry in action in hazardous circumstances.
During the conduct of an operation, a patrol, with Sergeant "C" as second-in-command, was tasked to establish an observation post in rugged terrain overlooking an enemy sanctuary. The insertion, by foot, took 10 hours.
During the course of the next day the patrol coordinated offensive air support against identified enemy positions.
During the afternoon, the OP became the focus of enemy who made repeated attempts by day and night to overrun and surround the position. In one incident the enemy attempted to outflank the post. Sergeant "C", without regard for his own personal safety, led a two-man team to locate and successfully kill the enemy.
Other militia later attempted to manoeuvre to attack the patrol from another flank. Sergeant C, again with little regard for his personal safety, adopted a fire position that was exposed on high ground, but which dominated the planned assault. While deliberately exposing himself to intense rifle and machine gun fire, he neutralised the lead assault elements and suppressed other attackers until offensive air support arrived.
Still under sustained fire, Sergeant C then guided indirect fire to effectively neutralise another enemy advance on his patrol's position.
His courageous and gallant actions were instrumental in regaining the initiative and allowed the successful exfiltration of the patrol on foot before dawn the next day.


Lance Corporal D - Commendation for Gallantry
For gallantry as a patrol medic during the treatment and evacuation of a wounded Australian soldier.
During an operation, Lance Corporal D's troop entered a pass in Oruzgan Province in support of a larger coalition force. As they moved north through the pass they received a large amount of fire including rocket propelled grenades, small arms and mortars. This engagement was the first major indication of a large enemy concentration in the area.
Throughout this engagement, Lance Corporal D provided fire support with his anti-armour weapon system from the side of a patrol vehicle, while receiving intense fire from the enemy.
During the engagement, a rocket-propelled grenade exploded immediately behind Lance Corporal D, seriously wounding his patrol commander. While still under heavy fire, Lance Corporal D reacted immediately and lifted his near-unconscious patrol commander into the vehicle. He manoeuvred the vehicle skilfully out of direct fire, while restraining the patrol commander who was now unconscious and in danger of falling out. In dead ground, Lance Corporal D stabilised his patrol commander and advised troop headquarters of the evacuation requirements.
Throughout the intense battle, Lance Corporal D's composure, application of skills and knowledge under extreme circumstances were instrumental in stabilising and extracting the casualty and significantly contributed to his patrol commander's successful evacuation, despite potentially life-threatening injuries.


Lance Corporal E - Medal for Gallantry
For gallantry in action in hazardous circumstances.
During an operation, Lance Corporal E was employed as the patrol scout and sniper in a patrol which was tasked to establish an observation post near a pass in extremely rugged terrain overlooking an enemy sanctuary. Early in the patrol, after an arduous ten hour foot insertion, the patrol was required to coordinate offensive air support to assist a combined coalition special-forces patrol in contact with the enemy on the valley floor.
The observation post became the focus of enemy forces and repeated attempts to locate and surround the position ensued. In one particular incident, Lance Corporal E was part of a two-man team tasked to move out of their relatively secure post to locate and neutralise the militia and regain the initiative. This task was successfully achieved.
In another incident, militia attempted to attack the observation post from a different flank. Lance Corporal E again moved neutralise the threat. Realising that the forward edge of the observation post was not secure he made a decision to split the team and take up an exposed position forward of the patrol so he could effectively employ his sniper rifle. While isolated, he observed a larger group of militia advancing across open ground. Lance Corporal E effectively employed his sniper rifle to stop their advance while under accurate small-arms fire from another group.
Through his efforts, Lance Corporal E maintained the initiative and ensured that his patrol remained secure by holding this position, without support, for 20 minutes.
Lance Corporal E's actions, whilst under heavy fire, in a precarious position, threatened by a numerically superior force, are testament to his courage, tenacity and sense of duty to his patrol.

Trooper F - Medal for Gallantry
For gallantry in action in extremely hazardous conditions.
While in an overwatch position of a known enemy stronghold area, Trooper F's patrol was simultaneously engaged by at least three groups of anti-coalition militia, within close range, by machinegun and rocket-propelled grenades. At that time Trooper F, the patrol machine gunner, immediately returned fire. After firing one short burst, his vehicle-mounted machinegun malfunctioned and failed to fire automatic bursts. Despite this, Trooper F remained in the unprotected turret of his vehicle and attempted to rectify the stoppage. When he could not be rectified the fault, he dismounted from the vehicle and, without delay, began to engage enemy positions with anti-armour weapons and a grenade launcher.
Using all the available weapons systems, moving fire positions, he aggressively engaged all three anti-coalition militia fighting positions. At all times he was exposed to, yet disregarded, large volumes of fire directed at the patrol and himself.
The patrol commander observed the effectiveness of Trooper F's suppressive fire, which effectively fixed the enemy in location such that they could then be decisively engaged by other patrol members. The patrol regained the initiative and successfully countered the attack to that point.
In the lull, Trooper F returned to his vehicle's turret where he stripped machinegun and attempted to rectify the problem, without success.
Shortly after, the enemy attacked again. Under heavy fire, Trooper F remained in the turret of the vehicle and returned fire as best as possible with the machinegun, this time with single shots, re-cocking the weapon after each. He fired 150 rounds in this manner before the gun began to function correctly.
Trooper F's clear disregard for his own safety while under fire in extremely hazardous circumstances, displayed significant personal gallantry in action.