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Army March 17, 2011
is a learning
By AB Melanie Schinkel and
Cpl Zenith King
INFANTRY soldiers are drawing
on their overseas operational expe-
rience to influence and reinvigor-
ate the way the School of Infantry
trains and prepares its new soldiers
for service in the Royal Australian
As a result of Army's increased
operational tempo in East Timor,
Solomon Islands and the Middle East
during the past decade, today's expe-
rienced soldiers are in a position to
impart more wisdom and know-how to
trainees than their predecessors.
School of Inf Instructor and
Section Commander Cpl Leon Gray
has deployed to East Timor, Solomon
Islands, Iraq and Afghanistan. Cpl
Gray said the infantry IET course had
changed considerably since he com-
pleted it in 2001.
"When I did the course, some of
my instructors told me about their
experiences in East Timor. I never
thought I would go to the Middle East
or serve in an actual war. Now, 10
years later, I'm passing on a complete-
ly different wealth of knowledge to
my trainees," Cpl Gray said.
"During every lesson I teach, I
try to incorporate real-life stories or
examples, which keeps the training
'real' and the trainees motivated. It
also puts into perspective what they
can expect to be doing on deployment
in the near future.
"Today, the training is a richer
experience for the trainees and they
march out of Singleton prepared for
their units and deployments."
He said in the past the Army had to
rely on Vietnam War doctrine, but now
Army training had become more adap-
tive due to the influences of current
"The training now is a good mix-
ture of rural and urban-environment
instruction, so it's much more dynam-
ic. It's also constantly changing to
encompass the experiences of person-
nel who return to the school after serv-
ing on operations."
Cpl Robert Matheson, also an
instructor at the school, enlisted in
2006 and has served in Afghanistan
twice. He said he often referenced sce-
narios from his time in Afghanistan to
give his trainees credible and realistic
"The course is flexible in that it
enables instructors to inject real-time
scenarios, so the training is life-like
and up-to-date," Cpl Matheson said.
"When I did the course, there
wasn't a whole lot going on besides
operations in East Timor. Now, there
are soldiers in our platoon who have
served in Iraq and Afghanistan as
well, so the trainees have the advan-
tage of learning about operational
theatres from the soldiers who have
actually served in them.
"I must admit, I often hit a raw
nerve to make the trainees sit up and
pay attention. Personal experiences
and real-life scenarios help to high-
light the points I'm teaching.
"It works too, because you can see
the trainees thinking, 'wow, that hap-
pened to him and it could happen to
me in a matter of months'."
Operational focus: Infantry NCOs are passing on the benefit of their combat experience to IETs at Singlet
Photo by AB Jo Dilorenzo
First-hand knowledge: Cpl Robert Matheson, pictured here on patrol in Afghanistan with MTF 1, is now an
instructor at the School of Inf.
Photo by Cpl Ricky Fuller
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