Remaining vigilant in the Top End

Soldiers attached to Joint Task Force 639 have been in the Top End recently, patrolling some of Australia’s most inaccessible shorelines for illegal activity as part of Operation Resolute.

CAPTIONNORFORCE patrolman Corporal Frank Marrar, left, and Northern Territory Parks and Wildlife Ranger Dylan Cooper act as spotters for the Wasp AE small unmanned aerial system during a patrol of West Arnhem Land as part of Operation Resolute Rotation 5. Story and photos by Leading Seaman Jarrod Mulvihill.

As part of the Australian Border Force-led mission, Rotation 5, primarily made up of soldiers from Army’s North-West Mobile Force (NORFORCE) and Regional Force Surveillance Group, deployed to the Northern Territory’s remote Garig Gunak Barlu National Park.

While the area of operations covers about 10 per cent of the world’s surface, Rotation 5 focused on areas of the Northern Territory coastline where there has recently been an increase in illegal activity.

Throughout its two-week deployment, the force conducted reconnaissance and surveillance patrols by water, air and land using numerous ADF platforms including F470 Zodiac small boats and surveillance and reconnaissance vehicles.

Soldiers from 9 Regiment also supported the operation by flying reconnaissance missions employing the Wasp AE small unmanned aerial system and PD-100 Black Hornet Nano unmanned aircraft vehicle.

CAPTIONAustralian Army reservist Bombardier Liam Brew, with the PD-100 Black Hornet Nano unmanned aerial vehicle, during a patrol in West Arnhem Land as part of Operation Resolute Rotation 5.

Officer Commanding Rotation 5 Major Karl Vatzlavik said he felt privileged in his position.

“To be able to command these young men and women who put on the uniform, take their rifles and their vehicles out into their backyard to protect country, it’s quite special,” Major Vatzlavik said.

“Our area of operation for this rotation is such a crucial area for the security of Australia.”

NORFORCE patrolman Private Bronson Mungatopi said he was proud to be a part of the operation.

“It’s good to explore country,” Private Mungatopi said.

“To get the opportunity from another Indigenous person, to welcome us, to look out for their country, it makes me proud to be a part of NORFORCE.”

Army reservist Bombardier Liam Brew, of 23 Battery in Canberra, enjoyed flying the unmanned aerial systems.

“We’ve been getting some really good flights, really detailed footage, and have received positive feedback from headquarters,” he said.

“It’s a real-life experience, something completely different that I haven’t had a chance to be exposed to throughout my military career.”

CAPTIONNORFORCE patrolmen Private Andrew Small, left, and Corporal Frank Marrar conduct surveillance in an observation post during a patrol in West Arnhem Land as part of Operation Resolute Rotation 5


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