More than 120 Army personnel from across 1 Brigade have joined forces in Hawaii to form the Australian 4th Combat Landing Team for exercise Rim of the Pacific 2014 (RIMPAC) – the world’s largest naval exercise.
The soldiers, drawn from C Company – 5th Royal Australian Regiment, 8/12 Regt, RAA and Headquarters 1 Brigade, have set up camp alongside soldiers and marines from all over the world in a purpose built ‘tent-city’ on the United States Marine Corps Base at Kaneohe Bay, Honolulu.
Since arriving on the Marines base, the Australian contingent has conducted training across a wide range of infantry skills, and alongside Marines and Army personnel from other RIMPAC partner nations including Mexico, The Republic of Korea, Indonesia, Singapore, Canada and the United States of America.
Major Ryan Leadbeater, Officer in Charge of the Australian 4th Combat Landing Team, said that the strategic benefits of attending RIMPAC were immense.
“The Australian Defence Force has recently invested a lot of time, resources and personnel towards our amphibious capability and we are looking to set ourselves up for success,” he said.
“Having reviewed the lessons learned from previous operations, we are now looking further afield to see what we can learn from some of our larger international counterparts, such as the US, but also other nations such as Canada, who are in the same position as us - where they are trying to raise an amphibious force from scratch,” Major Leadbeater said.
After a few weeks of core-skills training at the Marines base, the coalition soldiers will move to an offshore island for a more intensive period of combat training and will then embark the United States Navy ships USS Rushmore and USS Peleliu to practice amphibious warfare skills. The training will culminate in a large-scale ‘all nations’ amphibious landing and beach assault exercise.
Royal Australian Navy Commodore Peter Leavy, the RIMPAC Expeditionary Strike Group Commander, visited the Marines base during phase one of the exercise to observe the coalition ground forces training together.
The training observed by Commodore Leavy included urban warfare serials and fast-roping serials from a United States Marine Corps CH-53E Super Stallion helicopter – the most powerful helicopter in the United States military.
“The training here has been first rate. Our soldiers are singing the praises of the United States Marines Corps for the support they have provided since day one,” Commodore Leavy said.
“There’s 22 nations participating in RIMPAC this year. Most of them are from Australia’s direct area of interest and the Australian Defence Force has exercised individually with almost all of them.”
“Having them all here together provides a fantastic opportunity for us all to learn from each other and build a common understanding of how we do business and what our strengths and weaknesses are.”
“RIMPAC is the largest naval exercise undertaken in the world and it’s important that we’ve got Australian Army representatives over here to build up their level of expertise and skills in operating in the maritime environment.”
“Our Canberra class LHDs will be with the Australian Defence Force very soon and it is very important that we have the requisite experience and skills in our soldiers, who will form the core of our landing force,” Commodore Leavy said.
United States Marine Corps Lieutenant Colonel Mathew Tracey, the Commander of the RIMPAC Battalion Landing Team Ground Combat Element, said the joint training exercise would benefit every nation involved.
“The strategic advantage of any coalition is the perspectives as well as the capabilities that all of us bring to a potential problem. To harness those capabilities, we need to work together, train together and learn from each other, which is really the strategic end-state of exercises like RIMPAC 2014.
“The amphibious arena is so dynamic and so changing with the blossoming of threat technologies and friendly technologies, that this is really an opportunity for us to learn together and grow together,” Lieutenant Colonel Tracey said.
Throughout RIMPAC 2014, 49 surface ships, six submarines and more than 200 aircraft will be manned and crewed by 25,000 personnel from across the Pacific Rim.
Australia will be represented by approximately 950 personnel from all three Services, HMAS Sheean, HMAS Success, the Maritime Clearance Diving Task Group with diving elements, three AP-3C Orion aircraft and the Army members who make up the 4th Combat Landing Team.
The exercise will conclude in the first week of August.