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Training for Victory in Iraq

Commanding Officer of Training Task Unit, Task Group Taji 4, Lieutenant Colonel Chris Gardiner addresses Iraqi Army soldiers at Taji Military Complex, Iraq.

Terry Turner




With the transition from Task Group Taji IV to Task Group Taji V about to happen in Iraq, the commander of the current Task Training Unit at Taji can look back with pride on the achievements of the training mission.

Lieutenant Colonel (Lt-Col) Chris Gardiner is currently deployed with Task Group Taji Rotation Four, a combined force of about 300 Australian and 100 New Zealand Defence Force personnel who are training Iraqi Security Forces just north of Baghdad.

Under Lt-Col Gardiner’s leadership, the Task Group’s Training Task Unit is delivering training to Iraqi Security Forces at a crucial time with the battle to recapture Mosul still under way.

“Since Task Group Taji began operations in 2015, we’ve trained more than 21,000 members of the Iraqi Army and police,” he said.

“We’re out on the range with the Iraqis every day, delivering the instruction they’ve requested, to help them win their fight against Daesh.

“Watching the daily interactions between the Iraqis and our Anzac trainers is a highlight – they see each other as equals, the relationship is founded on respect.”

“We can see that we’re helping the Iraqis, every day.”

Although Anzac Day was a special occasion for the combined Australia – New Zealand Task Group, after the commemorative dawn service the men and women of Task Group Taji were ‘back on the tools’ by early morning, delivering training in marksmanship, building clearances and explosive hazard awareness.

As they continue their mission to support the Iraqis, Lt-Col Gardiner says the legacy of Anzac Day is always on everyone’s mind.

“I’ve been fortunate to visit the battlefields of Gallipoli and the Western Front, where I’ve seen the rows upon rows of headstones,” he said.

“When I remember those men, I also think of my family back in Canberra.”

“I’m grateful for the sacrifices made in the past so that we enjoy the freedom we have today.”

Brought up south of Perth, Lt-Col Gardiner decided on a military career at an early age.

He attended Army Cadets during his school years at Aquinas College and remembers those years with pride. Most of his family still live in Western Australia.

“I fondly recall being a Cadet Under Officer when our Army Cadet unit took out the regional prize in 1994,” he said.

“I always wanted to join the military and continue my family’s military legacy.”

“My grandfather was a Brigadier in the British Army, he was a signaller, and was appointed a Commander of the British Empire for his service.”

“I considered becoming a signaller myself, but when I was at the Royal Military College – Duntroon the all-corps environment educated me about what’s available within the army.”

“I’m proud to be a member of the Royal Australian Armoured Corps.”

Since graduating from Duntroon, Lt-Col Gardiner’s career has taken him to Afghanistan and Iraq – this is his second time in Iraq – as well as training and professional development overseas.

In 2016, he was appointed the Commanding Officer of 1st Armoured Regiment based in Darwin at a key moment in the regiment’s history when it was designated as the mounting headquarters for Task Group Taji-4.

It was the first time the headquarters had deployed since it was founded after World War II.

“The timing was fortuitous; it was an opportunity to contribute to the history of the regiment,” he said.

“But I also had mixed emotions – I looked across at my wife and daughters and knew it was going to be an exceedingly busy two years.”

“In some ways, my wife was more excited than I was – like everyone else in the Task Group, we all rely on the support we receive from our families and communities.”

In the days leading up to Anzac Day that support became increasingly apparent as care packages and letters have arrived from well-wishers at home in both Australia and New Zealand.

“Soldiers from Australia and New Zealand continue to serve their countries in the Middle East Region and it’s important we respect their contribution,” he said.

“It’s important that people at home understand the effort that Australia and New Zealand’s young men and women are making in Iraq and throughout the Middle East.

“They are committed to their mission and to their country.”

Lieutenant Colonel Chris Gardiner is the Commanding Officer, Training Task Unit with Task Group Taji Four, a combined force of Australian and New Zealand Defence Force personnel training Iraqi Security Forces to defeat Daesh and maintain security in Iraq.

There are about 300 Australian and 100 New Zealanders in the Task Group. Since 2015, ADF and NZDF members of Task Group Taji have trained more than 21,000 members of the Iraqi Security Forces.   

Photo by CPL Kyle Genner
© Commonwealth of Australia, Department of Defence

Terry Turner is Senior Editor for and Editor in Chief for the entire stable of CYBER PRESS magazines.CYBER PRESS is an Australian media business specialising in multi-channel broad audience online digital publishing. Our company is the evolution of Eco Magazines, Australia's premiere dedicated online publisher of full-format digital magazines. Put simply, we specialise, where many merely dabble.

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Army’s Hawkei demonstrates Operational Intelligence

The CASG Land 121 Phase 4 project team has put the Hawkei protected vehicle’s new C4I Integral Computing System (ICS) to the test.

Terry Turner




The Capability Acquisition and Sustainment Group’s (CASG) Land 121 Phase 4 project team has put the Hawkei protected vehicle’s new C4I Integral Computing System (ICS) to the test, during a demonstration of the deployable Protected Mobility Vehicle – Light (PMV-L) capability at the Monegeetta Proving Ground.

During the activity a Project Charter for the ICS was signed, guiding the interaction and collaboration between Defence and the nine contractors involved in delivery of the ICS; Thales Australia, Cablex, Elbit Land Systems Australia, Esterline, Harris Australia, Kongsberg, Raytheon, Rockwell Collins, and Thomas Global Systems.

Land 121 Phase 4 Project Director COL John McLean said that the ICS reflects the Australian Army’s requirement for a more integrated approach to C4I on vehicles that realises benefits in the areas of useability, space, weight and power.

“Using generic vehicle architecture (GVA) and a central computing concept to host various C4I systems and communications, the ICS will optimise and centralise the flow of information to the user, enabling rapid decision making and multitasking at levels not previously achievable on land based platforms,” COL McLean said.

“The new ICS will enable the vehicle operator to manage radios, sensors, the Battle Management System, and weapon systems – all through a common interface.

“The ICS was demonstrated to work successfully with Army’s Battle Management System and communications suite, as well as other features and systems of the deployable PMV-L capability.”

While the demonstration was a contractual requirement for Hawkei’s Bendigo-based manufacturer Thales, it also gave the invited Defence stakeholders an opportunity to see the deployable PMV-L’s various planned features, including:

  • Integral Computing System (ICS) Command Vehicle installation
  • Battle Management System (BMS) operating on Windows 10
  • Advanced Field Artillery Tactical Data System (AFATDS)
  • Digital Terminal Control Station (DTCS)
  • Interactive Electronic Technical Manuals (IETMs)
  • Force Protection Electronic Counter Measures (FPECM)
  • Rocket Propelled Grenade Cage
  • Remote Weapon Station
  • Manned Weapon Mount

Visitors were also able to experience the handling characteristics and performance of the Hawkei through an interactive patrol demonstration.

The initial baseline of the C4I ICS will be available on low-rate-initial-production vehicles from 2018.

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Air Force

ADF Support to PNG Elections

The Defence Force (ADF) has delivered election material to support the Papua New Guinea (PNG) Government’s 2017 national elections

Terry Turner




The Australian Defence Force (ADF) has delivered election material to support the Papua New Guinea (PNG) Government’s 2017 national elections.

Operation HANNAH is a support mission based on a direct request for assistance from the PNG Government. The ADF is supporting the Australian Whole-of-Government effort to support Papua New Guinea’s National Election process. Joint Task Group 658, comprises ADF elements that provide specialist support capabilities, particularly helicopters and logistic assets that are not readily available in PNG. Operation HANNAH is an element of a wider Australian assistance program to PNG, focused on supporting the PNG authorities to conduct a safe, free and fair national election.

Royal Australian Air Force C-130J Hercules, C-27J Spartan and B-300 King Air transport aircraft and Australian Army MRH-90 helicopters delivered election material to provincial centres and other key locations in the lead up to the commencement of polling, which will take place from 24 June to 8 July 2017.

Deputy Chief of Joint Operations, Major General Greg Bilton said the ADF support included aircraft not readily available in PNG.

“The mountainous terrain and the spread of islands in PNG means air transport is highly valued,” Major General Bilton said.

“Military aircraft offer capabilities needed to be effective across the diverse terrain encountered in PNG’s highlands and archipelago.”

“Since 10 June 2017 we’ve delivered over 100,000 pounds of election materials and we’ve supported the movement of more than 200 Papua New Guinean security personnel around PNG,” he said.

Commander of the Australian Contingent, Lieutenant Colonel Travis Gordon said the most gratifying thing about the mission has been the warm greetings received from PNG officials, troops and civilians alike.

“Papua New Guineans are very welcoming. They understand we are here to support their election and they genuinely appreciate Australia’s efforts,” he said.

About 200 ADF personnel deployed to Port Moresby for Operation Hannah, the ADF’s contribution to the Australian Government’s support for the 2017 PNG National Election.

Now that the ADF has completed its primary task, it has reduced its presence and elements of the ADF contingent will remain in PNG to provide movement support during polling, and to help transport personnel once polling has finished.


Papua New Guinea Police Force members prepare to unload electoral papers off a C-27J Spartan during Operation Hannah in Papua New Guinea.

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Hon Christopher Pyne MP observes Land 400 live firing

Minister for Defence Industry, the Hon Christopher Pyne MP, observed the live firing which saw the contenders for LAND 400 Phase 2 test their weapons.

Terry Turner




The two companies vying to build Australia’s next generation Combat Reconnaissance Vehicles have been put through their paces at a live firing exercise at the Puckapunyal Army Base in Victoria.

Minister for Defence Industry, the Hon Christopher Pyne MP, observed the live firing which saw the contenders for LAND 400 Phase 2 test their weapons.

“Projects like LAND 400 Phase 2 give us the opportunity to modernise our defence capability while creating hundreds of jobs in Australia and boosting domestic manufacturing.”

“Both vehicles represent a significant advancement in the protection and capability levels we will provide to our diggers,” Minister Pyne said.

“The Rheinmetall Boxer CRV and the BAE Systems Australia Patria AMV35 are armoured fighting vehicles with vastly improved firepower, protection and mobility than our current fleet.”

The vehicles are currently undergoing test and evaluation as part of the 12 month Risk Mitigation Activity to help pick a winner.

Minister Pyne said the Risk Mitigation Activity is also looking at ways to maximise Australian industry involvement in LAND 400.

“There has been significant effort put in to increase the opportunities for Australian companies to be a part of LAND 400,” Minister Pyne said

“Defence completed a nationwide series of workshops late last year to provide Australian companies with an opportunity to showcase their capabilities to the shortlisted LAND 400 tenderers.

LAND 400 Phase 2 is a $4-5 billion project to purchase 225 Combat Reconnaissance Vehicles to replace the Australian Light Armoured Vehicles currently in service with the Australian Army.


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