Troops ready and raring to go – Taji 3

Click to read in ARMY newspaper
Click to read in ARMY newspaper

Proud send-off for soldiers headed to Middle East region

MOTHERS’ Day was celebrated a little differently for many families this year as 420 soldiers, sailors, airmen and women were farewelled at RAAF Base Edinburgh ahead of their departure to the Middle East.

Words Maj Felicity Hamblin
Photos by Cpl Nunu Campos 

About 300 soldiers, mainly from 7RAR, will shortly deploy to Iraq as part of Task Group Taji 3 (TGT3) under Operation Okra, while another 120 soldiers from 7RAR will deploy to Afghanistan as part of Operation Highroad.

Mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers and children cheered on their family members from the “Pig Pen”, the home of 7RAR, as the deploying personnel marched on parade together for the final time before they departed Australia.

Margo Cole, the wife of 7RAR’s Sgt Mick Cole, said it was an emotional moment for her three young children as they prepared to say goodbye to their father for six months.

“It’s a different way to spend Mother’s Day, but it was great to be here and for the kids to watch their dad marching on parade before he goes overseas,” she said.

“This is Mick’s fifth deployment since we’ve had kids so it does make it a bit tough, but we’ve had a great day and I’m stoked that we could all be here together.”

Commander 1 Bde Brig Ben James said the preparation undertaken by the soldiers, sailors, airmen and women ensured they had the skills and focus required to take on the challenges that lay ahead in their deployed roles.

“Our personnel have undertaken some hard and realistic training in preparation for this deployment and I know they will all do an exceptional job training the Iraqi soldiers and providing force protection in Afghanistan,” he said.

“As the brigade heads in to its ‘ready’ year, this parade and the training that has led to this day really highlight the key roles and responsibilities 1 Bde is about to undertake.”

The third rotation of the ADF’s Building Partner Capacity contingent – TGT3 – is a combined force of Australian and New Zealand Defence Force personnel.

Commander TGT3 Col Andrew Lowe said he was confident in the soldiers’ ability to continue the good work completed so far by previous rotations.

“This mission is all about training the Iraqi Security Forces and our soldiers have proven their commitment to building good working relationships and ensuring they provide the best training possible to our Iraqi hosts,” he said.

The soldiers deploying to Afghanistan will be the sixth rotation of the Force Protection Element, which provides force protection to ADF members performing an advise and assist role to the Afghan National Defence and Security Forces in Kabul. CO 7RAR Lt-Col Dave McCammon said he was impressed by the commitment shown by the largely 7RAR-based contingent.

“Our soldiers have not taken this task lightly,” he said. “They’ve shown dedication to the job since the deployment was announced and are 100 per cent focused on ensuring they complete their individual and collective tasks to the highest standard.”

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Realistic deployment training stands soldiers in good stead

By Capt James Hook

THE various components of Task Group Taji 3 (TGT3) came together for the first time for a five-day mission rehearsal exercise (MRE) in Adelaide at the beginning of May. Australian and New Zealand personnel combined to form the task group’s training team, as well as its command, force protection and support elements. They were put to the test during the MRE by the Combat Training Centre (CTC).

CTC-Live CO Lt-Col Anthony Birch said CTC’s role was to generate scenarios similar to those the soldiers would experience in Iraq. “This enables all members of TGT3 to test their standard operating procedures as well as their tactics, techniques and procedures to be best prepared for the mission on which they’re about to embark,” Lt-Col Birch said. Some of the CTC’s observer trainers deployed on TGT1, and all have vast experience from serving in a broad range of units.

The MRE was conducted at RAAF Base Edinburgh, where 7RAR is based. CO 7RAR Lt-Col David McCammon said the training was a great opportunity for the Australians and New Zealanders to come together as a team. “CTC delivered a world-class training package, leaving us to focus on our jobs in theatre instead of developing and delivering the training ourselves,” he said. “The scenarios placed us under pressure, allowing us to identify the friction points and fix them before we deploy.” Lt-Col McCammon commands TGT3’s Training Task Unit (TTU), which will deliver combined arms training to the Iraqi Army, as well as provide force protection.

“A large portion of the TTU comes from 7RAR, with supporting elements from 8/12 Regt RAA and 1CER,” Lt-Col McCammon said. “We’re heading into a very complex area, dealing with very different cultures. “We are fortunate with the calibre of our individuals. They are resilient and robust, and display a high degree of initiative, particularly our junior NCOs.” Among these personnel is LCpl Sean McCall, of 7RAR, who has deployed twice to Timor-Leste. “Those deployments involved stability operations in a jungle environment,” LCpl McCall said. “For Iraq, we’ve rehearsed training and mentoring operations in an urban environment.

“The big difference is the depth and quality of the training, particularly in subjects like combat first aid. “The other big difference is that I was a bachelor then, and now I’m married to Melanie and we have a son named Ben. “I’ll be calling home more often than I did from Timor-Leste.”

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Brian Hartigan

Managing Editor Contact Publishing Pty Ltd PO Box 3091 Minnamurra NSW 2533 AUSTRALIA

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