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Army June 23, 2011
By Maj Haydn Barlow
EIGHT months of nervous waiting
is turning to excited anticipation for
the families of MTF 2 personnel as
their loved ones return from Operation
Almost 1500 soldiers are arriving
at Darwin Airport throughout the next
month as Operation Slipper transitions
to MTF 3.
WO2 Wayne Checuti's four children
checked out the arrival gate every three
minutes for signs of their Dad.
But their anticipation was kept at
fever pitch for more than an hour as 100
soldiers, none of them Dad, pushed the
doors open and fell into the arms of their
"I was getting heart palpitations
watching the kids buzz around that door;
they were so excited he was coming
home, but it seemed to take forever. He
was just about last out," WO2 Chetcuti's
wife Narelle said.
"And then finally he came through
and the kids rushed to him, surrounding
him like little birds in a nest.
"We had streamers and balloons all
through the house waiting for him at
"We are all just so proud to be part of
the Army family and what they achieve."
Mrs Chetcuti is a veteran Army
wife, having kept the home fires burn-
ing through four of her husband's five
deployments. But she said they did not
get any easier, especially when he was in
"A friend said to me the other day
DEFENCE Families of Australia (DFA) is invit-
ing members and their loved ones to participate
in its annual pre-conference survey and meet-
The survey and meetings form the basis of
DFA's annual Conference in August, where national
delegates meet the Defence Personnel Minister,
commanders, policy advisers and stakeholders such
as Defence Community Organisation, Defence
Housing Australia and Toll.
This year's survey topics include deployment,
relocations, education and child care. DFA is
also seeking evaluation for the National Defence
Families Access Card.
Go to www.dfa.org.au/survey/ to complete the
DFA has eight national delegates who represent
families in their home regions.
Family members can join national delegates at
pre-conference meetings to highlight local issues in
discussion with other Defence families. Visit DFA's
new online calendar at www.dfa.org.au for meeting
dates and venues.
Defence families completing the survey will be
in the running to win a $50 gift voucher.
Chance for partners to be heard
after Wayne got home that it seemed like
a great weight had been lifted from my
shoulders," she said.
"I guess it has. The waiting and not
knowing is very hard.
"The day after he arrived home, two
more soldiers were killed.
"I cried for those families, and was
grateful that mine was together again."
Darwin-based members of
Combined Team-Uruzgan and the Force
Communication Unit (FCU) are among
the soldiers to have returned home from
Afghanistan and the wider Middle East.
The FCU was responsible for all
facets of Op Slipper communications,
including Defence information networks,
amenities internet access, multinational
information systems and support to the
major fleet unit.
FOLLOWING major invest-
ment and advances in protective
equipment during recent years,
upgrades will continue with
$20m from the government and
defence industry players.
The project, announced by
Defence Minister Stephen Smith
and Defence Materiel Minister
Jason Clare on June 14, is a part-
nership between the Government,
industry and prominent research
organisations and includes more
than $9m in government funding
accompanied by $11m in funding
and in-kind contributions from
The funding will be directed
towards improving protective
equipment soldiers wear to com-
bat a range of existing and evolv-
ing threats, including improvised
It will develop, test and evalu-
ate prototypes of new equipment
in order to:
Improve ballistic, blast and
Improve head, face and eye
Decrease weight and bulk of
Reduce blunt trauma that can
occur behind armour.
Reduce the risk of a soldier
Improve protection from fire,
chemical and biological threats.
The Defence Materials
Technology Centre will lead the
team with support from research
organisations including the
University of Wollongong and the
Royal Melbourne Institute
The Centre was established
in 2008 to develop cutting-edge
technology to improve Defence
The research team will also
work with industry partners and
Diggerworks, which is made up
of soldiers who have recently
returned from Afghanistan.
This investment comes on top
of the $1.6 billion already invest-
ed in enhanced force protection
The new tiered body armour
Heavier calibre weapons and
extra protective armour on
Attaching mine rollers to the
front of Bushmasters to roll
ahead of the vehicle and take
the impact of an IED explo-
The delivery of the counter
rocket, artillery and mortar
(C-RAM) early warning sys-
New handheld mine detectors.
The 'outside-the-wire' ele-
ments of MTF 3 have already
started deploying on Operation
Slipper equipped with TBAS and
On June 16, Mr Smith and
Mr Clare jointly announced
the official signing of an agree-
ment to purchase 101 additional
Bushmasters to enhance force
protection and replace those dam-
aged in Afghanistan. The roll out
of C-RAM crews to some outly-
ing patrol bases in Uruzgan prov-
ince was also announced.
Daddy's home: WO2 Chris Macer with his wife Elisha and son Angus, 2, after returning from operations in the
Middle East, at Darwin Airport.
Photos by AB James Whittle
Improved protection: WO2 Damien Timms of Mentoring Task
Force 3 wearing the tiered body armour system.
Family focus: Members and their loved ones are
invited to the conference
Photo by James Drew
Reunion: Sgt Eric Frazer greets his daughter Kira at Darwin Airport after
returning from operations in the Middle East.
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