Special-ops students immerse in language lessons

Two Papua New Guinea Defence Force (PNGDF) soldiers flew in to Sydney to bolster the depth of ADF School of Special Operations (ADFSSO)  instructors.

CAPTIONAn Australian Army special operations force soldier studies Tok Pisin during language training at the ADF School of Special Operations at Holsworthy Barracks in Sydney. Photo by Corporal Dustin Anderson.

The two PNGDF instructors, from the Long Range Reconnaissance Unit (LRRU), are teaching the Tok Pisin language to Australian Army special warfare operators from 1st Commando Regiment.

The 16-week course includes a two-week immersion training phase in PNG.

PNGDF soldier Private ‘R’ said the special warfare students would travel to Rabaul and possibly Wewak, to practise their new language skills.

“They will be expected to engage extensively with the locals as part of the training scenario buying food and supplies, accessing services, learning about the area, navigating,” Private ‘R’ said.

“The in-country phase is meant to challenge them, but we’ve been really surprised how quickly the students picked up the basics.

“Within four or five weeks they were talking to us and holding conversations.”

ADFSSO is continuing a trial it started with the PNGDF last year.

Course manager Sgt ‘C’ said Special Operations Command had been training alongside the LRRU for years, so it was great to have two experienced instructors helping with Tok Pisin and passing on their extensive knowledge of the country and culture.

“The two LRRU instructors have such a great depth of military knowledge that they’ve also been able to help tailor the Defence Force School of Languages syllabus to our needs,” Sgt “C’ said.

“I think everybody can see the benefits already, so we expect this trial to continue.”

The LRRU is also keen for it to become a long-term partnership.

“We’re keen to continue to provide instructors on a rotational basis for eight to 16 weeks each year,” said Captain ‘D’, Officer Commanding of the LRRU.

“We have a strong and enduring relationship with SOCOMD [Special Operations Command], so we can see the mutual benefits of continuing to enhance that understanding and interoperability.”

While Warrant Officer ‘R’ has travelled to Australia several times in his 24-year PNGDF career, this is the first time for Private ‘R’.

“I’ve worked with 1st and 2nd Commando Regiments and SASR in PNG and I’ve deployed to the Solomon Islands and New Caledonia during my near-14 year career, but this is my first time in Australia,” he said.

“It’s a great experience to see Sydney and all the special operations facilities at Holsworthy Barracks.

“But I can’t say I enjoyed the cold when we first arrived in August.”

The ADF School of Special Operations is part of SOCOMD’s ‘schoolhouse’ training system.


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