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Army July 8, 2010
By Cpl Zenith King
MORE than 180 3RAR soldiers took
part in one of the year's toughest
activities, the annual Opie Trophy, a
section-level competition pitting the
Sydney-based soldiers against each
other and the elements in a bid to win
Exercise Opie Trophy, held from
June 20-25, tested the competing sec-
tions on both infantry core skills and
junior leadership at individual and sec-
tion level in demanding tactical situa-
tions, by day and night.
A section drawn from Recon Pl took
out the trophy at the end of competition.
OC Spt Coy Maj Troy Antal said
the activity, named after Maj Len Opie,
epitomised the ethos, leadership, initia-
tive and fighting spirit of the Australian
"It was designed to not only test the
section commander but also the junior
soldier and expose them to complex and
uncertain environments which will bet-
ter prepare them for operations," Maj
The 23 competing sections were
divided into two groups. For the first 60
hours, group A participated in a tacti-
cal patrolling activity in Lithgow and
group B conducted a bull ring of 12
activities on Holsworthy range.
The exercise assessed the standard of
basic infantry skills across the battalion
and identified the unit's champion sec-
tion.Maj Antal said the section command-
ers were issued a basic warning order
about 72 hours before the start with min-
imal direction as to what would happen.
"The intent was to create an unfamil-
iar and uncertain environment in a tacti-
cal setting, to test the section command-
ers' intuitive decision-making skills and
their ability to react in stressful situa-
At Lithgow, soldiers were given a
warning order and a full tactical intel-
ligence brief before being inserted
into their tactical area of responsibility
(TAOR). Once on the ground they com-
menced a clearance of their TAOR with
an operating enemy.
"Within this 60-hour period the sol-
diers conducted section-level deliberate
quick attacks, ambushing, PW capture
and mine-incident drills."
Group B covered more than 50km by
foot in 60 hours as they conducted a bull
ring of scenario-based activities. They
moved between each position, often
with little or insufficient time to reach
the following activity.
Each section had 90 minutes in each
location to conduct the activity and 60
minutes to move between locations.
After 60 hours the teams changed
over and conducted the opposite activity.
Sections were assessed during each
activity along with individuals' perfor-
mances -- points earned identifying the
Sect 2IC DFSW Pl LCpl Nathan
O'Brien said the activity provided a
good opportunity to assess the skills of
"It was a good activity that enabled
us to identify where our strengths and
weaknesses lie," LCpl O'Brien said.
"Our section performed really well,
above what was expected, and were very
solid as a whole over the week."
LCpl O'Brien said he was impressed
by the performance of his section.
"It makes me proud knowing we
have worked as hard as we could over
the six days both at the command level
and as a performer for the section."
Scoring and assessment of the bull-
ring stands and tactical patrolling phase
was based on leadership qualities, battle
fitness and individual skills.
The Opie Trophy is the precursor to
the Duke of Gloucester Cup, the infantry
corps champion section competition.
The sections in this year's trophy came
from all rifle companies; Spt Coy; Admin
Coy; A Fd Bty and a 'Subbies' Section.
Champion section: Recon Pl; Sect Comd
-- Cpl Adam Thomas; Sect 2IC -- LCpl Ben
Hames; Section: Pte Andrew Murphy;
Pte Michael Noar; Pte Wayne Pollard; Pte
Obson Shwe; Pte Sean Williams; Pte Alex
Maj Len Opie was born on December
23, 1923, and died on September 22, 2008.
Len Opie enlisted in the CMF in 1942 at
18 and saw service in Papua New Guinea.
He fought at the battle of Kapyong in Korea
for 3RAR and served in Vietnam for more
than three years with AATTV. In 1974 Len
was promoted to major and retired in '75.
An extract from 3RAR Kapyong Chronicle
2008 says: "Len Opie was the epitome of
the Australian infantryman; that special
breed of soldier that is called upon to seek
out the enemy, to close with him and to
kill or capture him. In more than 30 years'
service, Len saw active front-line service
facing the enemy for a full eight-and-a-half
years. Few, if any Australian soldiers have
ever equalled that level of service in the face
of the enemy."
Heat's on: A rifle section from 1 Pl, A Coy,
3RAR, conducts a stores carry as part of the
Opie Trophy (above) while Pte Ashley Pugh,
composite section, takes on the tyres in the
obstacle course (right). Photos by Cpl Zenith King
Tight fit: Cpl Ian Manning,
composite section, squeezes
through a tunnel.
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