Issue 28
December 2010

100 Pages
This Issue

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CONTACT Air Land & Sea

The blood of Australian, United States, other coalition partners and Afghan forces continues to flow in the fields of Afghanistan’s various war-torn provinces. Ten Australian soldiers have been killed this year alone – doubling the body count since the war began.
elmand’s lush green zones are the deadliest for coalition forces as they patrol on foot and in heavily armoured vehicles. The insurgents seem to have the ability to pick and choose their targets at will, especially by placing improvised explosive devices on main routes and small crossings, and taking an increasingly heavy toll – with more than half of all fatalities in the past three years
caused by the insidious and indiscriminate IED.

Words and Pics Gary Ramage

CONTACT Air Land & Sea

Rugged mountain ranges that seem to touch the sky surround the new patrol base that a small group of Aussie diggers has just
taken control of. Soldiers from Delta Company, 6th Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment, moved into the district of Deh Rawood in
Uruzgan province, only two days before I arrived for a visit. The Operational Mentor and Liaison Team (OMLT) has moved in to train the Afghan National Army (ANA) in the base.

Words and Pic Gary Ramage

CONTACT Air Land & Sea

Chest webbing was an evolution of the crossed bandoliers needed to carry the large amount of ammunition that characterised Eastern Block infantry assault tactics, which relied on the heavy weight of fire from automatic weapons. Cross pollination of equipment and tactics was an inevitable outcome of the Vietnam-veterans’ experience in the African Bush Wars.

Words Sergeant Freddy Warren, 1 Commando Regement
Pics ADF and Brian Hartigan

CONTACT Air Land & Sea

I guess I should have seen it as an omen that my new US employer seemed more preoccupied with what radio callsign I wanted to use than with my blood type. Thank christ the only other Aussie on the contract - my good mate Matt, AKA Skippy - was already on the ground to guide me through the ins and outs of working for a predominantly Yank-manned and -led operation.

Words AJ Shinner
Pics Shinner collection

CONTACT Air Land & Sea

On 5 April 2010, Dutch Navy frigate Hr Ms Tromp was patrolling an area 500 nautical miles from the Somali coast as part of the EU’s anti-piracy operation Atalanta, with a primary task of protecting shipping in the area. Tromp had a Maritieme Special Operations Forces (MARSOF) team, which included Unit Interventie Mariniers (UIM) operators. On the second day of Easter, a German cargo ship called Taipan had sent out a distress call saying pirates were attacking it and the 15 crew were trapped in a saferoom.

Words Andrew Balcombe
Dutch pics Andrew Balcombe, Afghanistan pics Peter Ter Velde

CONTACT Air Land & Sea

Trooper Jason Brown from the Perth-based Special Air Service Regiment died as a result of multiple gunshot wounds sustained during an engagement with Taliban insurgents on August 13. Trooper Brown’s parents, Graham and Ann, along with his sister Stephanie reflected on the life of the 29-year-old soldier. "Everyone who knew him knew his dream. He strived to be the best he could be at his job and was successfully accepted into the elite Special Air Service Regiment."

Twenty-eight-year-old Lance Corporal Jared MacKinney, serving with the 1st Mentoring Task Force in Afghanistan was killed in action following an intense firefight with Taliban insurgents on 24 August. A member of the 6th Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment, Lance Corporal MacKinney was involved in a dismounted partner patrol with the Afghan National Army in the Deh Rawud region when the engagement took place. In what has since become known as the Battle of Derapet, 20 Australian and 20 Afghan soldiers on the patrol remained in contact with up to 100 Taliban insurgents for almost three hours before withdrawing, after inflicting heavy losses on the enemy.

Two Australian soldiers serving with the 1st Mentoring Task Force in Afghanistan were killed by an improvised explosive device in
the Baluchi Valley on 20 August. Private Tomas Dale, 21 and Private Grant Kirby, 35, from the Brisbane-based 6th Battalion of the Royal Australian Regiment were killed in action during a joint counter-IED operation with soldiers form the Afghan National Army. Acting Chief of Defence Force Lieutenant General David Hurley said the soldiers were moving to an observation position in the Baluchi Valley to cover the operation when, at approximately 10.30am local time, they struck an IED. The 1st Mentoring Task Force farewelled its fallen comrades in a moving ceremony at Multi-National Base Tarin Kot on 24 August before they commenced the long journey home.

CONTACT Air Land & Sea

CONTACT Air Land & Sea - Somalia

major international exercise involving Australian Army, Navy and Air Force personnel, as well as members of the armed forces of
Malaysia, New Zealand, Singapore and the United Kingdom, took place in Malaysia in October. Exercise Bersama Padu 2010 (BP10) – which means ‘together united’ in Bahasa – from 11 to 29 October was designed to enhance security in the region. The exercise, under the auspices of the Five Power Defence Arrangement (FPDA), took place at various locations across the Malaysian Peninsula as well as in the South China Sea, and was designed to allow the FPDA nations armies, navies and air forces to practice the conduct of combined and joint operations at an operational and/or tactical level for the defence of Malaysia and Singapore.

Pics Corporal David Gibbs, Sergeant chris Weissenborn and Flight Officers Shaun Hayles and Anthony Yelland

CONTACT Air Land & Sea - Somalia

The story of Australia’s involvement in Somalia is not fully told or understood as yet, but this series surely goes a long way towards bringing it home. This is actually installment number 29 of our Somalia series, counting the sevenpage chapter in the infantry-only special issue we produced in November 2008. It is also – very sadly – the final installment, at least in CONTACT. I want to take this opportunity to publicly and profusely thank Wayne Cooper, my long-time best friend, for writing the first 16 installments of this series – and my new good friend, AJ Shinner, whom I only met through this endeavour, for taking over the reins in March 2008. Individually, each of the 29 installments beautifully encapsulates a little bit of Somalia through diggers’ eyes – but collectively, they are surely the makings of a much needed book on one of the fi rst campaigns in the Australian Army’s current era of high operational tempo. It is my fervent wish that Wayne and AJ one day collaborate to bring their expanded memoirs together as a single book. I hope they both can see that, through CONTACT, they have made a massive start and, in more ways than one, a massive contribution to Australia’s recent history. Thanks boys – Brian Hartigan.

Words AJ Shinner
Pics AJ Shinner collection

CONTACT Air Land & Sea - Somalia


Navy Exchange.
Army Exchange.
Navy Challenge.
Exercise Emu.
Exercise Pitch Black



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  • SAS DVD documentary
  • Super Hornets drop JSOW
  • 1000th Nulka missile sold

Plus our regular columns;

    • The Big Picture - Afghan Artillery School
    • Heads up - latest snippets from Australia, New Zealand and around the World
    • Military Fitness by Don Stevenson
    • Military Self Defence by Major Travis Faure
    • Just Soldiers by WO1 Darryl Kelly
    • The Gear Insider