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The majestic scene brought a
welcome moment of reflection on
a physically demanding day for
the patrolmen of Kimberley Sqn.
Zodiac-based water opera-
tions are arguably one of the most
demanding and team-orientated
types of patrols a Regional Force
Survellience Unit (RFSU) can
"People pay thousands for
these kind of wilderness adven-
tures and to see this sort of stuff,"
our coxswain LCpl Heath Boyd
said with a country twang and a
twitch of his moustache.
The serene interlude soon
passed and the mood and focus
shifted back to the mission. Our
bowman called 'shallow water
ahead', so it was time to race the
tide to the calmer waters of the
Small-team, high intensity,
short duration patrols are charac-
teristic of RFSU operations and
exercises, and often suit the avail-
ability of the once-branded week-
Ex Ocean Swift set out with
a combination of indigenous and
non-indigenous patrolmen from
the country towns of Kununurra,
Derby, Broome and Noonkanbah
At 19, Pte Naverone Salerno
from Kununurra was the youngest
and newest member of the squad-
For nearly 30 years a unit of diverse cultures and
characters has been protecting northern Australia.
Report and photos by Gnr Shannon Joyce
Norforce's Exercise Ocean Whisper.
ron. Deploying as a bowman for
the first time, he was in good
company this trip with his older
cousin and uncle.
"It's great heading out with
patrol members I've known my
whole life," he said.
"Everyone knows one anoth-
er's strengths and weaknesses and
compensates without a second
Water-op patrols like this one
often bow to the mercy of the
tides and skill of the patrolmen
reading the land. A slight mis-
calculation in the tide times or
a wrong turn through the maze
of waterways can result in hours
of dragging fully-laden zodiacs
through knee-high mud-beds back
to the sea.
"This is where local knowl-
edge can't be beaten," LCpl Boyd
"I fish some of these inlets,
and know them like the back of
my hand," he tooted proudly.
Mechanic LCpl Boyd is one
example of the many reserve
characters who work out in the
squadrons of Norforce.
Map to ground skills and tide
knowledge always help a new
patrol commander find his foot-
ing, but trusting the experience
of his men is a strong trait of
As an ex-Kimberley squadron
commander, CO Norforce Lt-Col
Chris Goldston has extensively
patrolled the Kimberley region
and highlighted the valued con-
tribution of the unit's local patrol-
"For our reserve patrolmen
who often have limited opportu-
nities for AIRN and other patrol
competencies such as swim tests,
the lead-in training for exercis-
es like Ocean Whisper can be
as important as the field phase
itself," Lt-Col Goldston said.
"The in-barracks concentra-
tion period prepares the soldiers
for their performance in the field,
refreshing important drills such as
capsizes and man-overboard.
"While engaging remote com-
munities through festivals and
displays are an important aspect
of Norforce's work, our recon-
naissance and surveillance contri-
butions to the cross-agency efforts
on border protection in the Top
End is the unit's core role, and a
job our patrolmen have trained
well for on this exercise."
Ex Ocean Whisper focused on
water operations where patrolmen
practised small team clandestine
insertion, manoeuvre and surveil-
Weekend water warriors
On patrol: A zodiac from Norforce's Kimberley Squadron cruises the
mangroves in the north western coastal region of Western Australia
during Exercise Ocean Whisper (left).
Out of gas: Patrolmen construct a makeshift sail from oars and a
hoochie while being towed by a small watercraft during a dead motor
scenario on Exercise Ocean Whisper (above).
Watchful eye: Noonkanbah local Pte Leryan Costaine provides cover
with other patrolmen during a high-ground radio transmission on a
petrified forest (below).
Army April 15, 2010
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