Domestic security abilities put to the test

Army Reserve soldiers from the 5th Brigade tested their ability to support civilian emergency services with urban combat training using airsoft rifles.

CAPTION: Soldiers from the 5th Brigade clear a building using airsoft rifles at Holsworthy Training Area at the end of Exercise Arras Sprint. Story by Major Jesse Robilliard. Photo by Private Sarah Fisher.

It was one of a range of tasks they conducted as a domestic incident security force in Sydney during Exercise Arras Sprint in late May.

Lieutenant Matthew Foster, of 2nd/17th Battalion, Royal NSW Regiment (2/17RNSWR), said Ex Arras Sprint was a good opportunity to gain experience at the combat team level.

“Moving out of Holsworthy Barracks, the combat team ventured out to Banksmeadow to secure a port facility and maintain security at a vehicle checkpoint,” Lieutenant Foster said.

“A platoon of soldiers and a cavalry troop then completed a VIP transport task to and from Holsworthy. It was great training for the soldiers to get exposure to the Bushmaster protected mobility vehicles.

“It was great to use our skills as infantry soldiers to safeguard the protection of VIPs and the security of key civilian infrastructure.”

On the final day of the exercise, soldiers conducted clearances in a simulated urban setting, using airsoft rifles.

Warrant Officer Class Two Jason Honeyman, of 41st Battalion, Royal NSW Regiment, said it was a great way to finish up.

“The key benefit of this exercise was the opportunity to bring our people together,” he said.

“A number of Royal New South Wales Regiment units are geographically dispersed across the state, including my own unit based in Lismore.

“Having access to the Holsworthy Barracks range made it a bit easier. When the opportunity is there, we seize it.”

The airsoft rifles used look like normal EF88s, however, they shoot a pellet, delivering a small sting.

Using the airsoft riles was a new experience for finance officer Captain Sharon Chan, of Headquarters 5th Brigade.

“I haven’t used these weapons before, so going through the training and being exposed to them has been a great experience to add to my Army career,” Captain Chan said.

“You can’t learn just by theory, you need to be in there and understand the risks and consequences that soldiers have to face when they are in that position on the ground.”

The airsoft training was also a first for Lieutenant Foster.

“Some of the 2/17RNSWR soldiers have had the opportunity before, so it was great to be able to join them in using this weapons platform and learning from others in our unit,” he said.

“Knowing that there was an actual physical consequence to poor drills meant we took things a lot more slowly. The more realistic we can make our training, the better.”

Warrant Officer Honeyman said units from across the 5th Brigade were gearing up to take part in Exercise Talisman Sabre.

“It’s good to be able to depart a little from the domestic operations that have been happening over the past couple of years. Our unit has been heavily involved in these disaster relief operations, so it’s great to return to foundational warfighting and honing our skills again,” he said.


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