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June 20, 2024 5:43 PM

Pride in our soldiers

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BY DI SNEDDON

Seventeen weeks of gruelling training for Australia’s newest soldiers came to an end last Friday with their march out at the Australian School of Infantry Singleton.

The training, while challenging in itself, was even more difficult this time around with leave from the base restricted because of COVID-19.

Platoon commander, LT Kurt Olsen, said his role to train up the soldiers, fresh from 12 weeks training in Kapooka, was a matter of preparing the group for service in a battalion, qualified and competent to step into any role the nation requests they undertake.

The infantry is 24.5% of the Australian Army. During training, the soldiers are required to develop competence in every type of weaponry used by the Australian infantry. 

Once the weaponry lessons are over, they take their skills to the field, teaming up in groups of eight to 12 in armed combat.  The noise that emanates from the School’s training field at Whittingham from time to time is exactly this, combat training in action.

The platoon of 47 on parade last week came from all parts of Australia and the address given by the School’s commanding officer, LTCOL James Smith said the soldiers were continuing a tradition of serving for the Royal Australian Regiment (RAR) that dates back to 1948.

“Training for the Infantry is the most difficult initial employment training that the Australian Defence Force runs and you should be proud of your accomplishments, this is just the start of your career,” LTCOL Smith said.

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Many of the new soldiers will head to the Victoria to assist with the COVID Task Force, a very different task to other years where, on occasions, first battalion appointments could have seen selected soldiers deployed overseas.

“While this might seem different, we are here to respond to what our nation asks us to do, I do not know what challenges are coming in the next months or year but we are ready,” he said.

“You are now going into your battalions and I know you are ready for that.”

LTCOL Smith thanked the soldiers and asked that they pass on his gratitude to their families.

“I thank you and this regiment thanks you for the sacrifice you have made, we are one small family and we welcome you to this family.”

Around 1500 men and women undergo training at the School of Infantry each year.

Singleton also hosts Army Reserve training, has a special forces training facility and is about to facilitate the combat officers advanced course with about 40 officers from New South Wales heading to Singleton for the six-week course.

And of course, there will be a new group of trainee soldiers coming from Kapooka very soon.

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