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Australian Army

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The Australian Army
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The Rising Sun badge of the Australian Army

Background

The Australian Army is Australia's military land force. It is part of the Australian Defence Force (ADF) along with the Royal Australian Navy and the Royal Australian Air Force. The Army is commanded by the Chief of the Army (CA), who is responsible to the Chief of the Defence Force (CDF).

Australian soldiers have been involved in a number of minor and major conflicts throughout its history, but only in World War II did Australian territory come under direct attack.

Australian soldiers are currently fully engaged in the Global War on Terror and provide relatively substantial numbers of troops to Iraq and Afghanistan. The Australian government has a long tradition of supporting NATO Special Forces operations stretching back many years.

Operational Laydown

The Australian Army currently has significant forces deployed on four major operations:

Operation Catalyst

Australia's commitment to the Coalition forces in Iraq. The army's contribution includes:

  1. Overwatch Battle Group (West); this is a battlegroup consisting of a headquarters, infantry company, armoured squadron and training team, with a total of 450 personnel. This has two tasks:
  2. Provide support to local Iraqi security forces
  3. Assist in the training of local Iraqi Army units so that they are able to take over the internal and external defence of their country
  4. Australian Army Training Team; this encompasses 55 personnel providing logistic training to the new Iraqi Army.
  5. Embassy security detachment; this provides security protection and escort for staff at the Australian Embassy in Baghdad, and consists of an Infantry company plus augmentees from other corps.

Operation Slipper

Australia's commitment to the War on Terror. The army contribution is primarily concentrated in Afghanistan:

  1. Reconstruction Task Force; attached to the Dutch led Provincial Reconstruction Team in Oruzgan Province, this consists of 200 personnel from 1st Combat Engineer Regiment, 45 from the 6th Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment, and a company(plus) from the 5th/7th Battalion, Royal Australia Regiment.

Operation Astute

Australia's commitment to Timor-Leste. This constitutes the largest overseas deployment of Australian forces, with around 925 troops deployed. These are primarily formed into a single battlegroup:

  1. ANZAC Battle Group; this is an infantry heavy battle group supported by engineers, armoured vehicles and combat support elements. Integrated into its structure is a company from the Royal New Zealand Infantry Regiment.

Operation Anode

Australia's commitment to the Regional Assistance Mission Solomon Islands. The contribution numbers approximately 140 personnel, primarily consisting of an Infantry company from The Army Reserve, plus support elements and limited numbers of full time Army personal in key roles. The Combined Task Force permanently consists of a Platoon from the New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF) and a Platoon from Papua New Guinea, Tonga or Fiji on a rotational basis. Headquarters personnel, including the Commander are primarily drawn from the Australian Defence Force (ADF) however the NZDF provide the Deputy Commander and other members of the HQ. The CTF's main role is to provide assistance to the Participating Police Force – a Police Force, again led by Australia but made up of some 14 other nations. This assistance comes in several guises; be it providing logistical support it times of stress such as civil unrest or natural incidents, providing additional protection to police patrols on the streets of the capital Honiara, or helping pass on RAMSI’s message to the people in the more remote islands by conducting long range patrols. It is envisaged this operation will go on for quite some time. Until such a time the Solomon's government, and more pertinently, the people believe they can stand on their own two feet for a prolonged period.

Additional Tasks

In addition to these, small numbers of personnel are deployed on various peacekeeping operations around the world, including the Multinational Force and Observers and to the United Nations.

  1. Operation Mazurka - Australia's commitment to Multinational Force and Observers (MFO). From 1982-1986, the RAAF provided rotory wing aviation support. Since 1994 the Australian Army has maintained a presence within the organisation. Currently 25 personnel rotate twice a year, being employed in key HQ, operations and logistics positions.
  2. Operation Paladin - is the Army's longest ongoing operation, where Australian personnel have served since 1956. Operation Paladin is Australia's contribution to the UN Truce Supervision Organisation that was established in 1948 to supervise the truce agreed at the conclusion of the first Arab/Israeli War.

Destination: Down Under!

In recent years, the numbers of British soldiers transferring to the Australian Army has increased dramatically, assisted in part by a very generous and accommodating Australian government sponsored scheme, which effectively pays for removals and relocation. Australia and the UK have reciprocal tax arrangements, meaning that British Armed Forces personnel continue to reap the benefits of their (index linked) service pension.