“2RAR will cease to exist as a light-infantry battalion”

While some in Army would prefer to put it a little less indelicately, a senior army officer recently told CONTACT that “2RAR will cease to exist as a light-infantry battalion”.

The official line is that on 15 October this year, 2RAR will transition from a light-infantry battalion to a specialist ‘amphibious-operations battalion’.

2RAR soldiers depart the well deck of USS Green Bay in combat rubber raiding craft during Talisman Saber 17. US Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Sarah Myers.
2RAR soldiers depart the well deck of USS Green Bay in combat rubber raiding craft during Talisman Saber 17. US Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Sarah Myers.

However you sugar-coat it, under this new structure 2RAR will no longer be comprised of rifle companies – it will have specialist small-boat platoons instead.

It will, however, retain security and support-company capabilities.

In the bigger picture, while 2RAR will remain housed at Lavarack Barracks, it will no longer be a part of the 3rd Brigade, falling instead under command of the 1st Division’s Amphibious Task Group.

It will become 1st Division’s specialist amphibious-operations battalion and the centre for amphibious-operations expertise for the broader Army.

As such, 2RAR will be responsible for training landing forces for amphibious operations.

From October this year, the ground-combat element (GCE) of the amphibious ready element (ARE) landing force aboard HMA Ships Canberra and Adelaide – will be provided by the Army’s ready battlegroup (RBG), which will need to be certified ‘amphibious competent’ before assuming ‘ready’ responsibilities.

It will fall to 2RAR to ensure the ground-combat element is brought up to speed on amphibious operations before it can be certified ‘ready’.

All of the above information was gleaned through conversations and reports in various official Defence publications and can be read in its wider context in the next issue of CONTACT Magazine, out 1 September 2017 (subscribe free here).


The following is Sir Jeffrey Armiger‘s two cents worth…

With 2RAR all-but re-classified as a training organisation, responsible for training the remaining light-infantry battalions in amphibious operations – and therefore being outside the ‘raise, train, sustain’ cycle as a participant – am I right in thinking that 2RAR will spend a lot of time at sea, despite officially having a ‘home port’ at Lavarack Barracks?

Is it too much to suggest that such a paradigm shift in roles, function and composition might warrant a name change?

In fact, is it not cruel to the history and heritage of a proud light-infantry battalion to continue pretending that it is still an infantry battalion after this change comes into effect on 15 October?

Happy to field criticism for suggesting such blasphemy 😉


CAPTION: (main photo) Members of the 2nd Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment, Manoeuvre Support Platoon, provide direct fire support with .50 Cal machineguns during the final Battlegroup Samichon assault at the Shoalwater Bay Training Area during Exercise Talisman Saber 2017. Photo by Corporal Mark Doran.





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Posted by Brian Hartigan

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4 thoughts on ““2RAR will cease to exist as a light-infantry battalion”

  • 01/09/2017 at 2:58 pm

    This is probably a dumb question from a dumb old digger. What type of warfare will our forces fight in future using this “bit of everything” organization with about 700 digs qualified in each skill set? On another subject, the submarine debacle , will have pollies sending sailors to watery graves in outdated boats . Bullshit

  • 20/08/2017 at 4:32 pm

    Why not give them a point of difference and unit pride in their new role and call them 2RAR (Marine) in the same way 3RAR was 3RAR (Para).

    • 27/08/2017 at 4:16 pm

      2 RAR will be. They will become 2 RAR(AMPHIB) on the 16 Oct 2017. much like 3 RAR will become 3 RAR(MECH) next year and 1 RAR(MOTARISED) and so on through all BNs.
      They are just going to be a PLF so no need to have a selection course. They will be RAR soldiers and nothing more that work in the amphib space primarily.

  • 20/08/2017 at 2:21 pm

    As a former Paratrooper with 3RAR ‘Para’ I obserbed from a far, many 3RAR ‘Para’ members’ “walk over the road” to 4RAR CDO (now 2CDO) —- it makes perfect sense to me that 2RAR becomes Aust’s 1st Marine Battalion.

    I saw first hand what happens to a specialist Unit if that ‘specialisation’ isn’t detached from the RAR, and I’ve watched what happens when a ‘specialist’ Unit is formally recognised/re-roled (e.g. 2CDO) and allowed to flourish….. and, not that many decades before that, we saw the benefits from having SASR created out of the RAR —- sufficed to say, the Corp of Infantry is and should always remain to be, an ecosystem of Units & specialsations.

    Moreover, the concept of “regularly infantry” and “light infantry” are outdated and redundant terms that oddly remain to this day, a kind of 19th century hangover —- I don’t know anyone who I would have ever labelled ‘regular-light infantry’ across the entire RAR —– I see all of them as Multi-Role-Operators (MRO’s) able to perform complex tasks in multiple domains, theatres and operations, where its members’ develop and hone incredibly broad and deep skill sets within the profession —- in my view there is nothing “regular”, common or “light” about being a member of the RAR —- and to be more pointed on the matter, out of a population of 24M people, they represent 0.00025% of the population who can actually do the job… so, nothing “Regular” about that.

    What I do not see happening: is 2RAR reduced into to a training organisation… what I believe we are seeing is the birth of a new Corp/Regiment/Battalion — the 1st Aust Royal Marine BN, being part of the Corp of Infantry… that first n’ foremost will always be an on-line & ready infantry (Marine) BN, that supports the ADF by providing amphib training & capability.

    2RAR (in name, formation & location) must remain…. there is no need to de-link it, there only needs to be a new Regiment (and name) raised to recognise the Marine role….. more importantly, 2RAR’s new specialisation should not be used as a political exercise to reduce the RAR…. we should use and expand, not shrink, the RAR as a feeder of talent, as it does with SASR, 2CDO, SOCOM etc (e.g. SOLS-SOER) and not look to cut the RAR when a new specialisation is developed.

    If 2RAR is cut and fully removed from the RAR, it will be as a result of think-shrink originating out of Canberra….. a dangerous point of believing spin, policy, bureaucracy, Ministerial Chief-of-Staff and media advisers are all the capability we need in any scenario.

    Actually, now that I’ve made that last comment and, based on ‘How’ GVT and DVA treat the busted & broken of the RAR, I would gladly see Canberra politicians, Ministerial Chief-of-Staff and Media Advisers perform the ‘Doing’ of the RAR… that would be a sight 🙂

    Can’t wait to see what the new BN of the RAR is named: 1st BN, Royal Marines AU?


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