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AN ARTILLERY Joint
Fires Observer awarded
the Medal for Gallantry in
the 2012 Queens Birthday
Honours list was presented with his
medal at Government House, South
Australia, on September 4.
Bdr David Robertson, of 102 Coral
Bty, 8/12 Regt, said he was honoured
to receive an MG for his efforts during
a patrol in the Tangi Valley, Uruzgan
province, on March 20 last year.
Bdr Robertson deployed to
Afghanistan in October 2010 as part
of MTF 2. He then helped build Patrol
Base Qareb, where he worked from
late December 2010 until the end of his
deployment in late July last year.
The patrol on March 20 during
which Bdr Robertson earned his MG
began with nothing out of the ordinary.
Two teams of 15 Australian
Operational Mentoring Liaison Team
(OMLT) members and 20 ANA soldiers
patrolled 5km from Patrol Base Qareb
to the village of Moruch.
While there, they planned to interact
with locals and search for caches.
The patrol had in support an
Australian infantry section, an ASLAV
and a mortar section, which was pushed
up to an ANA checkpoint 4km away to
stay in range of the patrol.
They stepped off from Patrol Base
Qareb at 1300hrs and headed further
into the valley, bound for Moruch.
The village was the next settlement
down the valley past Derapet, where
LCpl Jared MacKinney was killed in
action on August 24, 2010.
"The closer we got to the village,
the more reports we had of the insur-
gents watching us and preparing for an
attack," Bdr Robertson said.
"So we had the infantry section
move forward across to the northern
side of the river to establish a support
by fire position acting as a deterrent for
anyone wanting to target us."
The reports continued as the patrol
entered the village at 1500hrs.
"We raised our level of alertness and
set up a more defensive position around
the village," Bdr Robertson said.
"The patrol commander with the
interpreter had already started speaking
to people outside their compounds and
our engineers had started searching up a
dry creek bed for weapons caches.
"Not long after this at 1600hrs our
snipers had identified and engaged a
number of insurgents who could be
seen carrying PKM machineguns in the
next village, called Tutak."
This engagement acted like a trigger
for the remaining observing insurgents.
"We received an imminent threat
warning over the radio and not long
after that we began receiving effective
small-arms fire from the high ground
overlooking the village," Bdr Robertson
"Our patrol commander told me and
several others to push up onto a hill
150m outside the village to find bet-
ter observation points so we could find
where the insurgents were firing from.
"When we got there we could see
a number of insurgents on a ridgeline
above us who were also firing down
onto us and the patrol."
On the hill, Bdr Robertson, a signal-
ler, two snipers and a MAG-58 crew
were all exposed to the insurgent fire,
with little cover available to them.
"We all split up to gain the most
cover we could," he said.
"There was a small cliff face my sig-
'I really didn't want
Calling in accurate fire support while exposed
to enemy machinegun fire on a mountainside
earned Bdr David Robertson a Medal for
Gallantry, Sgt Andrew Hetherington reports.
naller and I could take cover behind, but
the problem was when we went there it
gave us some cover from the elevated
insurgent fire from the east, but exposed
us to fire coming from other directions.
"Shortly after we moved to the cliff
face we began taking accurate fire from
a machinegun to the north."
Bdr Robertson then called in a mor-
tar fire mission from the mortar section
at the ANA checkpoint.
"After receiving permission from
the patrol commander, the mortars were
laid on to the insurgents on the elevated
ridgeline," he said.
"After the initial round had landed
50 metres from the target I made a cor-
rection and gave them the command of
three rounds fire for effect."
Silencing the elevated insurgent
position allowed Bdr Robertson to turn
his attention to the northern insurgent
"I gave the new grid reference to
the mortars after some of the infantry
had seen dust signatures in the sky near
where the machinegun fire had come
from, allowing me to get an accurate
grid location," Bdr Robertson said.
"The patrol commander needed the
machinegun suppressed immediately so
I ordered a fire mission of three rounds
fire for effect.
"As this target was out in the open
and away from the village, we used an
airburst proximity round, which explod-
ed above them."
By 1620hrs the two insurgent fir-
ing positions had been neutralised and
the standby ASLAV was called forward
to the support-by-fire location on the
northern side of the river.
The patrol commander then decid-
ed to push the patrol about 300 metres
towards Tutak and search the com-
pounds where the patrol's snipers had
previously seen and engaged armed
Covering a wide expanse of open
ground to reach Tutak from Moruch
was a challenge.
"Because we were still receiving
fire, the patrol commander coordinated
the ASLAV, mortars and support by
fire location to simultaneously engage
a number of targets while the patrol
moved up through an aqueduct into
Tutak," Bdr Robertson said.
"At 1630hrs they moved forward
and we remained on our hill, which was
the only high ground we could continue
to observe the patrol from.
"During this time we also ordered a
mortar fire mission onto a target on the
high ground above Tutak, suppressing
After the patrol arrived in the village
they searched compounds for insurgents
At 1715hrs, with the sun going
down and after not finding anything
in the village, the patrol commander
decided to withdraw to Patrol Base
"From our elevated position we
coordinated suppressive fire as the
patrol withdrew from Tutak," Bdr
"Some of the insurgents were pop-
ping up from behind the elevated ridge-
lines and firing on us and the patrol, but
once the ASLAV fired on them they'd
move back behind the cover of the
ridgeline and re-engage us from a new
"We ordered our last mortar fire
mission onto targets on the high ground
above Tutak, suppressing and keeping
the insurgents' heads down as the patrol
moved back to Patrol Base Qareb."
The patrol arrived back at the patrol
base by 1840hrs.
Although Bdr Robertson said he
feared for his safety during the patrol,
he was more concerned about his mates.
"Most of the time on patrols I didn't
do much until I had to call in offensive
support onto targets," he said.
"When the time came, everyone else
wasrelyingon metodo myjobandI
really didn't want to let anyone down.
"On March 20 lots of guys on the
patrol had close calls yet continued to
do their jobs and push forward."
Green zone: Medal for Gallantry recipient Bdr David Robertson stops for
a rest during a patrol in the Tangi Valley.
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