A young Tongan soldier has completed a challenging infantry course with the Australian Army, and now has big plans for his future.
CAPTION: Private Barnabas Koloamatangi speaks with Lieutenant Colonel Richard Thapthimthong after graduating from the School of Infantry Initial Employment Course, Singleton.
Private Barnabas Koloamatangi, a 25-year-old soldier from Kofo’ou, has graduated from the Royal Australian Corps of Infantry Initial Employment Course at the School of Infantry.
Working alongside Australian infantry soldiers for 15 weeks, Private Koloamatangi learned a range of military skills such as living in the field, working as a team, tactics, first aid and weapons training.
Private Koloamatangi said he found the training challenging but enjoyable.
“I’ve gained a lot of experiences and valuable skills,” Private Koloamatangi said.
“I really enjoyed the combat shooting; it was one of the best things we did.”
Private Koloamatangi enlisted in 2019 and joined the Tongan Royal Guards.
Initially joining the military for the “opportunities and challenges”, Private Koloamatangi has exciting plans for his future military career.
“I plan to go back to Australia to do the officer course at the Royal Military College at Duntroon in Canberra,” he said.
“This course has been a great experience to help me get there and become familiar with the weapons and tactics I’ll need to know, and help me improve my English.
“I can’t wait to go back.”
While Private Koloamatangi lost both of his parents at a young age, he was sure his seven siblings and community would be proud of his achievement.
“It’s a great feeling,” he said.
“They’ll be super excited, and I imagine they’ll have many questions. I don’t know if I’ll be able to answer, there’ll be so many.”
Commanding Officer School of Infantry Lieutenant Colonel Richard Thapthimthong said Private Koloamatangi performed exceptionally well.
“Soldiers from His Majesty’s Armed Forces of Tonga always do really well when they come and train with us at the School of Infantry,” Lieutenant Colonel Thapthimthong said.