Building bridges across armies

Lieutenant James Bonney attaches simulated explosives to a bridge during the final field phase of the Engineer Regimental Officer Basic Course. Photo: Sergeant Ray Vance

Building bridges across armies

Future Royal Australian Engineer corps troop commanders are building bridges of a different kind.

During the eight and a half month regimental basic officer course at Holsworthy’s School of Military Engineering, more than 40 lieutenants are not only learning how to be Army’s mobility and survivability experts, they’re working with our regional partnered forces to build networks for future interoperability.

Working with their contemporaries from Malaysia, Fiji, PNG, NZ and Tonga during one of the longest courses run by the Combined Arms Training Centre, course leader Captain Jillie-May Reading said students covered a broad range of engineering capabilities.

“These include vertical and horizontal construction through to search and explosive hazard reduction techniques,” Captain Reading said.

“The training we do at the school is of the highest standard with all our subject matter experts to cover off on each of those topics. 

“Lieutenant’s rotate through the various modules and cover off on skills from the soldier level all the way through to the management and coordination of tasks as a troop commander.”

Not only do the trainees come away as qualified Royal Australian Engineer troop commanders, they have learned how to work together and alongside international counterparts.

2 Lieutenant Blair Jones from the New Zealand Army said the skills were easily transferrable.

“Our doctrine is similar to what we are doing in Australia,” he said. 

“I might be joining a support troop or combat engineers in New Zealand, and I’ll be using the skills I’ve used here to fulfil my role.”

The course covers basic combat engineering to search; chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear warfare tactics; watermanship and bridging skills.

Exercise Kokoda is the courses’ culminating activity with trainees rotating through the command of a mechanised engineer troop against a developing enemy picture base on the decisive action training environment.

On completion of the course trainees will post to their gaining units ready to lead and fight in the ever-changing domains expected from future warfare, hand-in-hand with our regional partners.

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