Soldiers from 8th/9th Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment (8/9 RAR), have been training to prepare for operations in densely populated cities and urban centres.
CAPTION: A rifleman from Alpha Company, 8th/9th Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment, fires an F88 Austeyr rifle during urban operations training held as part of Exercise Ram Horn at the Wide Bay training area. Story by Captain Taylor Lynch. Photo by Corporal Nicole Dorrett.
As part of Exercise Ram Horn conducted in the Wide Bay training area, the infantry soldiers recently fought their way through varied terrain over two weeks.
The training ended with an assault on the urban operations training facility that simulated a small township populated by an enemy force.
The soldiers navigated the challenging urban terrain, with its different levels, rooms, rooftops and access points to buildings, while civilian role-players and booby traps added extra layers of complexity to test the soldiers’ decision-making abilities.
The assault of the urban operations training facility was conducted using paint ammunition, adding realism to the training.
Warrant Officer Class 2 Phil Brown said 8/9 RAR had increased its focus on urban operations training in recent times, and it differed from other types of training.
“8/9 RAR has been increasing the priority of urban operations training as more training facilities become available, and as doctrine is being rewritten for the contemporary environment,” Warrant Officer Brown said.
“Urban operations present unique challenges that other environments don’t have, requiring different techniques and procedures for close combat.
“Contact is often at very close range in challenging conditions and low-light situations.
“We’re fighting up, we’re fighting down and we have to be aware of a multitude of different threats, including drones and cyber attacks.”
Warrant Officer Brown said the use of non-lethal paint ammunition provided real-time feedback to soldiers.
“If a combatant conducts incorrect combat behaviours, they know about it instantly through a pain response when they’re hit,” he said.
“The paint ammunition also improves the training instructor’s ability to identify correct combat behaviours and poor combat behaviours.”
Having been deployed on operations Bushfire Assist, COVID-19 Assist, and Flood Assist in recent years, Warrant Officer Brown said 8/9 RAR’s soldiers appreciated the opportunity to train in their core role of seeking out and closing with the enemy.
“Noting the battalion has been heavily committed to domestic operations, the soldiers have reacted extremely positively to being in the field,” he said.
“We’ve raised the training baseline of the battalion and learnt better ways to train our soldiers.”