Agility on show in Australia's north

This article has photo gallery Published on Department of Defence (author), LEUT James Dobson (photographer)

Location(s): Derby, Western Australia

Topic(s): HMAS Newcastle (F06), HMAS Ballarat (F155)

HMAS Newcastle patrols past a gas and oil platform during a North West Shelf patrol. (photo: Unknown)
HMAS Newcastle patrols past a gas and oil platform during a North West Shelf patrol.

Exercise NORTHERN SHIELD wrapped up on 10 September in Derby, Western Australia, with more than 1,200 troops and millions of kilograms of equipment returning to bases all over Australia.
 
The exercise, which began in late August, was the latest major military activity to be held in the remote north-west region within the last 12 months, and tested the Australian Defence Force’s ability to decisively respond to land and sea-based threats to Australia.
 
Ships, troops, vehicles and aircraft converged on the Kimberley region from as far as Brisbane, Sydney, Darwin, Tindal and Canberra to participate.
 
Chief of Joint Operations, Vice Admiral David Johnston said the exercise was successful and demonstrated the ability to plan and execute major missions to ensure the security of north-west Australia.
 
“The Australian Defence Force is a highly capable and agile force,” Vice Admiral Johnston said.
 
“We practise and demonstrate our ability to deploy to any location across the continent whenever the need arises.
 
“The exercise has reinforced that the Australian Defence Force can move forces quickly, including to remote areas, in the event of any threat or natural disaster.”
 
Exercise Director, Colonel Brett Chaloner said the response from the local population was positive, with many offering to take part in exercise scenarios. 
 
“The positive reception and support we received from the community made the development of this training opportunity exciting,” Colonel Chaloner said.
 
“It allowed us to script a series of dynamic training opportunities for the forces to contend with.”
 
Northern Shield involved a wide range of capabilities and equipment from different areas of Defence working together in a joint environment to defeat a simulated enemy threat.
 
The exercise followed detailed discussions between the Australian Defence Force, other government agencies and local mining and resources companies, and incorporated multiple Australian Defence Force platforms including warships HMAS SuccessNewcastle and Ballarat, Tiger and Black Hawk helicopters and Air Force aircraft.
 
“The Australian Defence Force routinely has a strong presence in northern Australia and can quickly escalate the military presence when required,” Vice Admiral Johnston said.