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Army November 24, 2011
THEY might seem like the ultimate accessory for
trendy tech heads but tablet computers could be set
to change the way soldiers are evaluated in the field.
Observer/trainers (OTs) from 8 Bde put the high-
tech devices through their paces during the brigade's
recent Combined Arms Training Activity (CATA).
The OTs used the tablets to take notes, record
videos and snap photos while they assessed the sol-
diers' performance in the field.
All the information was later downloaded into a
database, which formed the basis of the brigade's
Commander 8 Bde Brig Phillip Bridie said the
report from the tablet trial was not yet written but he
believed the devices showed promise.
"From my point of view it's positive," he said. "It's
adding a lot to the way we do business.
"The data is downloaded and collated to give a
picture of how the elements are performing."
Previously the OTs wrote down their observations
and manually entered everything into the computer
after each day.
With the new tablets, inputting the information
took about five minutes, according to Brig Bridie.
"This avoids a lot of transcription errors we used
to get," he said. "And they tend to put a lot more infor-
mation into the tablets."
The tablet's camera allowed OTs to take video
of soldiers giving orders or conducting activities and
provide instant feedback.
"You can show someone what they did by playing
the video back," Brig Bridie said.
"A picture is better than a thousand words and it
can give examples by just showing them."
The tablets had been strengthened with special
protection around the sides and boasted a battery
life of two to three days. Brig Bridie believed none
failed during the trial.
He was also impressed with the tablet's GPS and
"It can tell you exactly where you are or you can
point it somewhere and it tells you which direction it
is," he said.
"They have really taken to it well."
A library full of Army doctrine was also loaded
onto the tablets and allowed the OTs rapid access to
a wealth of information.
By Cfn Max Bree
NSW reservists are well on the
road to future deployments after
5 Bde and 8 Bde conducted
overlapping Combined Arms
Training Activities (CATA) in
Singleton throughout October.
For the first time in about 10
years, both NSW brigades con-
ducted their CATAs in the same
place at the same time.
During one week in mid-
October more than 1000 soldiers
were sharpening their skills on
the Singleton range in preparation
for upcoming deployments and
next year's Exercise Hamel.
Although the respective exer-
cises were mostly separate, some
elements of the NSW brigades
teamed up to provide catering,
logistics and artillery fire support.
5 Bde's Ex Waratah Ready
ran from October 7-23 and start-
ed with a C-130 air move from
Richmond to Singleton as part of
the brigade's Reserve Response
Force (RRF) certification.
Reserve soldiers were joined
by a handful of NSW police to
practise coordinating air move-
ments after a Defence aid to the
civil community call out.
The exercise moved into
Phase 2 when almost 500 soldiers
based in Sydney and Southern
NSW arrived at Singleton and
went into counter-insurgency
mode to follow on from Exercise
During their evaluation exer-
cise the 5 Bde's High Readiness
Reserve (HRR) combat team con-
ducted security assistance opera-
tions to clear the area of insur-
Commander 5 Bde Brig Paul
Blood said the exercise was the
result of a year's worth of train-
ing and assessment designed to
keep the combat team ready.
"I'm very pleased with where
the brigade is at this point in
time," he said. "The combat team
got a tick in the box. By and large
they're in a pretty healthy state.
"And not just the combat
team, also the combat support
and combat service support ele-
With the insurgency crippled
at the hands of the 5 Bde com-
bat team, the exercise moved on
to live-fire platoon defence and
artillery fire support.
As 5 Bde prepares to form
Timor-Leste Task Group 5 in
the second half of next year,
Brig Blood planned to make use
of everything learnt during Ex
"By all accounts they're quite
competent, ready to go," he said.
"But like all of us they'll need
"We'll take the lessons learnt
out of this exercise and put them
into next year when we start to
prepare a company for East
The might of the Roman
Empire was in the minds of the
planning staff as 8 Bde arrived
at Singleton for Ex Octavian
A local militia backed by
Musurian special forces tried to
thwart the 8 Bde combat team
during the CATA from October
The reservists from Sydney
and Northern NSW conducted
high-end regional stabilisation
operations centred on dug-in
In the lead-up to next year's
Ex Hamel and Op Astute rotation
29, the 8 Bde combat team under-
took "typically defensive opera-
tions" with platoon live firing,
patrolling and ambushing.
Almost 400 soldiers from 8
Bde descended on the Singleton
range while 40 personnel from
the Hunter River Lancers went to
Townsville for Bushmaster train-
ing.Commander 8 Bde Brig
Phillip Bridie said the brigade had
taken the first major step down
the road to Ex Hamel in July and
Op Anode next December.
"The skill sets we trained in
here are fundamental to our force
preparation," he said. "At this
stage we will provide a combat
team for Hamel.
"For my soldiers to get the
opportunity to exercise on Hamel,
strong preference will be given
to those who turned up and per-
formed well on CATA."
Brigades join forces
Readiness: Lt Wade Tink, left, and platoon signaller Pte Liam Sheen from the 5 Bde HRR combat
team at the form-up point before a clearance operation on a simulated enemy position during the
5 Bde CATA at Singleton. Inset, 8 Bde personnel conduct gas training during their CATA, held at
Singleton alongside 5 Bde.
Photos by Maj James Wackett and Sgt John Waddell
High tech: Observer/trainers from 8 Bde used
tablets while assessing soldiers in the field
during 8 Bde's CATA.
Photo by Sgt John Waddell
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