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Army March 29, 2012
Cpl Nick Wiseman
THE most geographically dis-
persed infantry unit in the country
is under new command this year
with the appointment of Lt-Col Paul
O'Donnell as CO Norforce.
As one of the Army's three opera-
tional regional force surveillance units,
Norforce plays a vital role patrolling
the harsh outback and participat-
ing in Operation Resolute, protecting
Australia's borders and offshore mari-
Lt-Col O'Donnell said he had not
seen a lot of the Australian outback
before this appointment.
"To command Norforce and be part
of the region is a great opportunity,"
"I'll not only get to see the outback,
but be part of it and experience it first
Lt-Col O'Donnell brings a diverse
range of experience to the unit, includ-
ing deployments to Iraq and East
Timor, as well as two years as an infan-
try instructor at the US Infantry School
at Fort Benning.
Most recently he worked at Army
Headquarters on force structure and
The previous CO, Lt-Col Chris
Goldston, successfully consolidated
and reorganised the unit with initiatives
Lt-Col O'Donnell said he wanted to
continue and take to the next level.
"We've got new vehicles for both
land and water coming into service,"
"We need to adapt and exploit those
Norforce is an integrated unit
including both regular and reserve
members with a high volume of indig-
enous patrolmen, who are a key asset,
according to Lt-Col O'Donnell.
"Our indigenous soldiers bring local
knowledge and traditional skills and
values, and we make modern warriors
out of them," he said.
Despite the large number of reserve
members, the unit does not oper-
ate solely as a conventional reserve
unit parading on Tuesday nights and
weekends. Instead, members parade
more often in several two-week blocks
throughout the year.
These blocks often include basic
and advanced patrolman courses as
well as operational patrols in the field.
Lt-Col O'Donnell said squadrons
within the unit had to work and sustain
their troops independently of the head-
"As a highly dispersed unit,
Norforce squadrons are required to exe-
cute decentralised operations," he said.
"The headquarters' role is to lead,
enable and support the squadrons in
the execution of their operations and
ensure the six-man patrol teams are
well equipped and trained."
The unit also operates with local
landowners and remote communi-
ties to contribute to and support
regional development and the Army's
Norforce has a busy year ahead,
with regional force surveillance units
set to join Exercise Hamel.
"We'll be providing part of the
opposing force this year, so watch out 1
Bde," Lt-Col O'Donnell said.
New boss eyes outback
Norforce's CO aims to build on recent initiatives to improve unit structure and organisation
much of the
to head the
unit with the
largest area of
AB James Whittle
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