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trainees to accept
they will make
-- Maj Trent Harron,
RESERVE officer cadets
from across the coun-
try descended on South
Australia recently to partici-
pate in Exercise Gona.
The exercise is the cadets' final
opportunity to consolidate their knowl-
edge as they approach the end of their
officer training and attempt the final
challenge at RMC.
Gona is hosted biennially by
Adelaide Universities Regt at the
Murray Bridge Training Area.
Participants have spent between
12 months and three years progress-
ing through the Army Reserve officer
commissioning course and, if success-
ful in their final training block, will
receive a commission as a lieutenant.
From the beginning of the nine-
day exercise the tempo was high. For
Exercise OC Maj Trent Harron, the
aim is to create an environment that
challenges participants to ensure they
are adequately prepared when they
arrive for their final training block at
"Our intent is to deliver a training
experience that is both mentally and
physically demanding," he says.
"We encourage trainees to accept
they will make mistakes, to embrace
that reality rather than fearing it, and
learn from the experience.
"Our focus is on continuous
improvement. We seek to produce jun-
ior officers who are sound decision
makers with a bias for action."
He says the exercise provides a
unique opportunity for trainees to gain
additional experience through expo-
sure to a series of challenging situa-
tions that will prepare them well for
Throughout the week, officer
cadets endured long days and nights
and a range of diverse activities.
Whether it was offensive and defen-
sive operations throughout the day or
ambushes at night, the training was
both challenging and rewarding.
With more than 30 people partici-
pating in the exercise, each is at a dif-
ferent point in the training continuum.
They all have the opportunity to act
in different roles depending on their
skills and training level, whether it's
as a section member or as a platoon
CO AUR Lt-Col Jake Kearsley says
Gona has been running for many years
and is a key development opportunity
for officer cadets.
"It's important we provide the
opportunity for every officer cadet to
begin their final training block with
confidence," he says.
"The exercise confirms founda-
tional warfighting skills and gives
exposure to command, leadership and
platoon management. Participation in
Gona, combined with confirmatory
training at their individual units, places
them in the best position for success."
Reserve officer cadets interested in participat-
ing in Exercise Gona can make enquiries with
their chain of command. The exercise is held
in May and November each year and is fully
funded by AUR.
Capt Tim Sydenham
SOUTH Australian employers of
reserve soldiers had the oppor-
tunity to see their employees in
action during Exercise Gona.
About 20 employers headed to
the Murray Bridge Training Area to
participate in Exercise Employer
Engagement and meet with officer
cadets undergoing training. They
were joined by 20 university stu-
dents interested in joining the
Army Reserve as officers.
The group watched a platoon
attack and the after action review,
before heading to the range where
they conducted an introductory
shoot with the F88.
Alex Demetriou is a Director
with KPMG and found the day
to be a great opportunity to see
officer cadet training up close.
"As we begin to work with more
Defence organisations, it's best to
really understand at a grass roots
level what it's like," Mr Demetriou
"I found the de-brief at the
end really interesting and started
to draw correlation to what was
being done back in our office.
"Not only was the platoon com-
mander giving his observations,
the individuals also had the oppor-
tunity to have a say.
"I think we could possibly
implement some of those initia-
tives back into our team meetings
Lucy McEwen, General
Manager at Fyfe, recently signed
up as a supportive employer and
had a staff member participating
on the exercise.
"Being a supportive employer,
staff know that they can come
and talk to us about reserve ser-
vice and it will be accepted. We
now have a policy in place," Ms
Training for staff is also impor-
tant for Ms McEwen.
"If our staff can go somewhere
and get leadership training and
learn new skills, it's only going to
be a benefit to us in the long run",
Capt Tim Sydenham
TRAINING to be an officer in the
Army Reserve offers many unique
opportunities, but officer cadets
are not always fresh of the street.
OCdts Matthew Walkington and
Xavier Ireton were in the reserve
for a number of years before
deciding to pursue a commission.
Based at Sydney University Regt,
OCdts Walkington and Ireton are
near the end of their officer training.
Both are part of the full-time Army
Reserve officer program, which
gives people the chance to complete
the Army Reserve General Service
Officer Commissioning Course
in six months. Both are about to
embark on the final training block
Once graduated and com-
missioned, they will remain on
Continuous Full-Time Service for
an additional six months, during
which time they will complete their
Regimental Officer Basic Course
while posted to a unit within 7 Bde.
With a degree in international
security, officer training within
the Army Reserve was an obvious
part-time career to pursue for OCdt
"I like the ability to develop
my thinking as an officer and run
through the appreciation process
when applied to a combat environ-
ment," OCdt Walkington says.
"Coming from being a private
in the infantry, I found the training
on Exercise Gona tough but educa-
tional, which is great as we approach
our final training block."
For OCdt Walkington, it wasn't
just the warfighting capability that
attracted him to reserve service.
"I like the things reservists are
able to do, including support to
disasters such as cyclones, bushfires
and flooding," he says.
Having studied a Bachelor of
Construction Management, OCdt
Ireton says he enjoys the challenge
and opportunity to do things that are
different to those found in his civil-
"Officer training offers an
opportunity to lead and continually
develop yourself," he says.
"I have already learned a lot from
this exercise, from ambushing to pla-
toon attacks and dealing with unex-
pected threats such as mine fields.
"I always try to get people to join
the Army Reserve. It's a
good experience that helps keep you
grounded in civvy street and pro-
vides you with leadership
Road to a commission
OCdts Xavier Ireton (left) and Matthew Walkington were soldiers
before deciding to commission in the Army Reserve.
Strong bias for action
Exercise Gona equips Army Reserve
officer cadets with the skills they need for
success, Capt Tim Sydenham reports.
Employers reap benefits of service
An officer cadet mans the gun during Exercise Gona at the Murray Bridge Training Area in South Australia.
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