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Army September 15, 2011
By LCpl Mark Doran
THE chaos of population con-
trol was one challenge faced by
Combat Team Alpha during
3 Bde's Combined Arms Training
Activity (CATA) for the combined
arms battle group based on 1RAR.
Nearly 1000 troops from 3 Bde
and its support elements deployed to
the Townsville Field Training Area
(TFTA) from August 27 to September
3, testing the tactics and combat
capability of infantry, artillery, com-
bat engineers, cavalry and air support
in an environment of unrest.
The Ready Battle Group (RBG)
is rotated between 3 Bde's three bat-
talions and is prepared to deploy at
short notice on operations.
Capt Judd Finger, HQ 3 Bde, said
the scenario of the CATA was an
evacuation operation in a fictional
country called Tropicana Enclave.
"This was the pinnacle of their
training to practise and evaluate the
group to be certified as a contingency
force," Capt Finger said.
"The battle group could be
deployed overseas at just hours'
notice, so they have to be highly
"The RBG has been deployed
numerous times, particularly to
Solomon Islands and East Timor.
They are there for the evacuation of
Australians and also security opera-
tions within the Pacific."
Role players acting as civilians,
local officials and Special Forces
added to the realism of the training
for the Townsville-based soldiers.
Cpl Steven Frater, a 1RAR section
commander, has been with the north
Queensland battalion for six years.
He has deployed twice on Operation
Astute and once on Operation Slipper
and said he had one of the most
rewarding jobs in Defence.
"My section was going to be part
of the ready combat team, which
meant we were to be the first soldiers
to push in and establish a foothold on
the ground," he said.
"Unfortunately, our Hercules was
delayed, so a reserve combat team
went in by road to do the job, which
they did without a hitch."
Once Cpl Frater's section made
it to the area of operations their role
changed to security of the town,
which allowed the locals to continue
with their everyday life.
During the security task a local
was detained by the Australian forc-
es and Cpl Frater said the incident
caused unrest among the local popu-
lation. This was where the less expe-
rienced soldiers received some good
"We rehearsed population control
in our intermediate mounting base,
so this event reinforced to our newer
soldiers the confusion on the line and
the defensive methods we use," Cpl
"Our platoon faced 40 protesters
who were chanting and swearing at
us and they started throwing apples
and tennis balls to simulate rocks.
"The protesters were prodding
the line, trying to grab Australians or
push through, and it was fairly realis-
tic, the role players did it well."
The next phase of CATA was
the combat team live-fire with sup-
port from engineers, artillery,
Bushmasters and 1RAR's direct fire
support weapons platoon.
The live-fire attack started in the
early hours and rolled into a defen-
sive position to defeat an enemy
counterattack as night fell.
Cpl Frater said the live-fire was
beneficial for the junior soldiers as
they were able to see the troops and
firepower available to support the
"We did a walk around afterwards
to see the ground which really drove
home the effect of the amount of fire-
power we can put on the enemy's
position before the assault," Cpl
"I would not have wanted to be on
"The defensive live-fire combined
with the illumination from the artil-
lery and the 84mm Karl Gustavs also
showed the amount of firepower we
can have in a combat team to hold-off
the enemy if need be.
"The live-fire was definitely the
highlight of CATA, especially down
to soldier level. It really showed that
everyone has a role to play in a com-
bat team attack, which comes down
to the basic soldier skills and the indi-
viduals taking the pits."
Battle group ready
Medical aid: Medic Pte Jayson Payne, 3CCSB, stands ready during 3 Bde's
Combined Arms Training Activity.
Photos by Maj Al Green
Fired up: Gnrs Peter Shavikin and Kevin Bird, 4 Regt, handle a 105mm round
as the crew prepares to fire a mission at Townsville Field Training Area.
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