3RAR goes back to school – to survive

As 3rd Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment (3RAR) soldiers breached doors, cleared rooms and hunted the ‘enemy’ through Townsville’s closed Stuart State School, they knew survival often meant being first to fire.

CAPTIONSoldiers from 3rd Battalion, The Royal Australian Regiment during an urban operations exercise at the disused Stuart State School in Townsville. Story and photo by Corporal Luke Bellman.

Private Darren Hancey said critical skills were needed when conducting urban ops training.

“We have to be on the throttle ready to do the damage to someone else before they do it to us,” Private Hancey said.

“It’s not like in the green role where you’re able to push that person 300 plus metres away; they could be within a couple of metres.

“It’s very close; you’ve got to be ready.”

The soldiers spent seven days rehearsing revised urban warfare drills featuring new verbal and non-verbal commands and room-clearance techniques.

CAPTIONSoldiers from 3rd Battalion, The Royal Australian Regiment develop their drills in an urban environment at the disused Stuart State School, Townsville on February 29. Photo by Captain Brittany Evans.

As the platoon progressed though, one section cleared a building while another provided support.

Once a building was cleared, another section moved forward to clear the next structure.

Platoon commander Lieutenant Jacob Street said when a section gained a foothold, it acted as fire support for other sections.

“They’re mutually supporting each other as they go through to clear buildings, which they haven’t had the experience to do yet,” he said.

Sections often separate for their own tasks out field, but in urban, they mutually support each other.

“You’re looking at smaller teams achieving smaller goals to complete a larger goal,” Lieutenant Street said.

Urban operations require flexible decision-making, often needing smaller teams to seize the moment, according to Lieutenant Street.

CAPTIONA soldier from 3rd Battalion, The Royal Australian Regiment during an urban operations exercise at the disused Stuart State School, Townsville. Photo: Corporal Luke Bellman

He said if a group was dislocated from the larger call sign, it had to make quick decisions and use initiative to achieve the mission.

For Private Hancey, this meant being ready to engage quickly and decisively.

“If we know there’s an enemy in the location, we have to be ready to engage. Once we clear a room, we have a safe, strong area,” he said.

“Knowing within the team that we can be silent is crucial. The biggest thing we learn through urban ops is working in small teams compared to pairs.”

They can clear anything from a small cupboard to a big warehouse.

As part of the new urban package, Lieutenant Street said soldiers received a full suite of urban warfare skills, rather than picking up pieces from different postings.

“This package starts with individual drills, moving to pairs, then fire teams, and from that they move into sections and then we do platoon operations,” he said.

“The drills start from the bottom up.”

CAPTIONSoldiers from 3rd Battalion, The Royal Australian Regiment during an urban operations exercise at the disused Stuart State School, Townsville. Photo by Corporal Luke Bellman.


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