Fiji Bushmaster drivers’ course

Brisbane-based Australian Army soldiers are training troops from the Republic of Fiji Military Force (RFMF) on how to use Bushmaster protected mobility vehicles as part of an ongoing agreement between the two nations.

CAPTION: Republic of Fiji soldiers conduct Bushmaster driver training on a log-crossing obstacle, under the guidance of Australian Army driver training instructors, at Greenbank Training Area. Photo by Corporal Nicci Freeman.

The Fijian government purchased refitted Bushmasters from Australia in 2017 for use in peacekeeping operations and training in Fiji, and the Australian Army has been providing the RFMF driver training.

Eighteen Republic of Fiji Military Force soldiers have completed a three-week Bushmaster Protected Mobility Vehicle driver’s course in Brisbane.

Fiji purchased refitted Bushmasters from Australia in 2017 for use in peacekeeping operations and for training purposes, and have been sending soldiers to Brisbane for vehicle training.

The Australian Army has now run four Bushmaster driver’s courses for the Republic of Fiji Military Force as part of the ongoing agreement between the two nations.

Australian Army trainers, mainly from Brisbane’s 7th Brigade, taught their Fijian counterparts how to drive the vehicles in various terrains, recovery methods, and maintenance skills.

7th Brigade Commander Brigadier Andrew Hocking said the Fijian soldiers had done extremely well on the course and were great ambassadors for the Republic of Fiji Military Force.

“We love having the Fijian students here.  I know my soldiers and staff get as much out of instructing them, listening to them and learning from them as they do from us,” Brigadier Hocking said.

“It is a strength that the Republic of Fiji Military Force and Australian Defence Force both operate this very capable vehicle.

“As we partner together in training for potential disaster relief operations in the region, collectively we will both be more capable to help the people of the region.”

Staff Sergeant Mikaele Mataka from the Republic of Fiji Military Force said while the course was challenging at times, the group finished the training confident in handling the Bushmaster.

“The Bushmaster is very valuable to us on operations, so coming to Australia to learn everything about the vehicle is a morale boost to the Fiji Army personnel who drive it,” Staff Sergeant Mataka said.

7th Brigade, through its infantry unit 8th/9th Battalion, The Royal Australian Regiment, has a strong relationship with the Republic of Fiji Military Force and will work with them on training and engagement opportunities into the future.

“We will continue to build this relationship in our common interest, to ensure our region is safe, secure and prosperous,” Brigadier Hocking said.

 

RELATED STORY: Fiji buys Aussie Bushmasters for peacekeeping

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Brian Hartigan

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