GEARED UP: RSM TRADOC, WO1 Ken Bullman and BrigadierBen James at the Rockhampton Show.
GEARED UP: RSM TRADOC, WO1 Ken Bullman and BrigadierBen James at the Rockhampton Show. Allan Reinikka ROK130618aarmy1

Peak of Army team set to hit Rocky by this Sunday

MORE than 8,000 Army personnel will descend on Shoalwater Bay for their annual training exercises in coming day.

Brigadier Ben James spoke to The Morning Bulletin about this year's exercise called Exercise Hamel.

The Director General Training and Doctrine for the Australian Army said the exercise is a real 'training key activity' to ensure the wider Australian Defence Force can meet "those really key preparedness and training tasks the Government ask them to do and in the time required".

One of the operations conducted will be with the Royal Australian Navy's two new large amphibious ships.

"It's really important for our soldiers to get the chance to get on there, learn how to live, operate and deploy from those ships," Brig James said.

Another planned scenario is an evacuation of Australians and approved Australian nationals from a fictitious country, and how they go about supporting the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.

"So activities like that, planned in detail, and executed so our soldiers know what to do if and when that task comes up in the future," Brig James said.

Planning for the month-long exercise begins a year in advance.

"Next year will be a bigger exercise and we have started planning for that already," Brig James said.



Austrailian Army display at the Rockhampton Show.
Austrailian Army display at the Rockhampton Show. Allan Reinikka ROK130618aarmy2

More than 4,500 personnel are at Shoalwater Bay now and by Sunday there will be joined by another 4,000 personnel.

The personnel are not just made up of the Australian Army, but also from the Royal Australian Navy, 650 soldiers from the United States Army and marines from Darwin.

"We are never going to fight alone, we are always going to fight alongside our friends and allies and it is a key thing we try to do in Exercise Hamel," Brig James said.

"Training alongside our most important partners and working out how to do it together."

Brig James joined the Army in 1987 and has lost count how many times he has made the trip to Central Queensland.

Describing Shoalwater Bay as a great training area, Brig James said there were different terrain types, it's big, and offers the opportunity to do so much.

"The reception we get in towns like Rockhampton is always five-star," Brig James said.

"To get that reception, to have that training area so close, to be able to do the level of complexity and training we need in one place makes it a five-star place.

"We love coming to Rocky and Shoalwater and to this part of the world."

Brig James offered a big thank you to the Rockhampton community for being so welcoming throughout the beginning of the exercise so far.

"It is a really important part in enabling the ADF to do its core business here," he said.

Brig James urged residents and motorist to be aware of extra traffic in coming days and from late June until July 7.

"You will see lots of convoys on the road, large trucks carrying tanks, wheel vehicles, track vehicles on the road," he said.

These dates will also coincide with school holidays.

"We take our safety very seriously and we will ask for a bit of patience from people on the roads to make sure we all get to one place safely in one piece," Brig James said.

Exercise Hamel, which takes its name from a battle fought in France in July 1918, has been designed to develop, confirm, and evaluate the foundation war fighting skills of the Army's combat forces in a combined and joint setting.

It occurs in even years with the other major annual exercise, Talisman Sabre (Hamel) (TS-H) taking place in odd numbered years.

The Battle of Hamel was a successful attack launched by the Australian Imperial Force and several American units against German positions in and around the town of Hamel in Northern France. The battle was commanded by Lieutenant General John Monash who employed the new tactics of combined arms tactics to successfully complete the battle in 93 minutes.

The battle of Hamel paved the way for the allied victory in the First World War.