Page 273 - The Rifles Bugle Autumn 2019
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 I would be posted to an Army reserve unit. It was the 11th/28th Battalion, the Royal Western Australia Regiment located in Perth, Western Australia. Due to the fact here in Australia we can serve in the Army until retirement, it is not unusual to serve at least two years in a reserve unit at each rank after Corporal (CPL). This was a real surprise to me as working with the reserves wasn’t something I had thought about. Again it differs to the British system in that not many senior non-commissioned officers are exposed to the reserves. This can result in a divide due to a misun- derstanding of what they do and just how capable they can be. This is where the Australian system really pays off and the use of reserves not just on operations but on large scale exercises really fosters the relationship between regular and reserve forces.
As mentioned, the 11th/28th Battalion is a light infantry battalion and one of the two battalions of the Royal Western Australia Regiment. Historically, the 11th/28th Battalion was formed in 1987 by the amalgamation of the 11th and 28th Battalions of the Western Australia Regiment. These battalions both trace their history back to units formed in the First World War, although they also have links to previous units that served during the Second Boer War. Today, the Battalion has two fighting Companies with a Battalion Headquarters and Administration elements. Delta Company is co-located with the headquarters and they are based in Perth City. Alpha Company is based to the South of the City and has three depots based in the more remote dislocated towns. The drive from the furthest South depot to Perth is around 6 hours, which gives you an idea of the size of the battalion’s area of responsibility.
As mentioned, our area runs from the south of the river in Perth city all the way to the South West corner of Western Australia to the town of Albany. This takes in some of the real remote localities, which means many of the soldiers at these depots are working at the mines or emergency response workers from those areas. My responsibility lies with the Rockingham depot; here I manage a platoon strength of soldiers from Alpha Company. The job is made much easier due to the fact I have a platoon staff that covers off on many of the normal day-to-day duties leaving me with the normal corporate governance and organising the training. The range of jobs the guys have is amazing and it really brings a completely different aspect to the job when you have everything from a paramedic to a helicopter pilot in your platoon. It can sometimes feel like being back in the Rifles as the thinking rifleman mentality is encouraged and everyone has an opportunity to put ideas forward due to the diverse range of skill sets.
The battle rhythm runs from the basic Tuesday night, which is our normal day of parade through to one weekend a month and then 2-3 times a year we run large training blocks, which can run from nine days through to three weeks (This is where specialist or promotion courses and large exercises are scheduled). This is obviously a huge ask of our soldiers but there are some great incen- tives for employers and the guys really enjoy getting
out on the ground and doing some real soldiering. Additionally, there is a huge exercise each year run by one of the regular Army Brigades, which is supported by the reserves. This again gives the reservists a chance to work side by side with the regular units and enhances the esprit de corps within the Army as a whole.
So where to next you may ask? I loved my time in the Rifles and made some exceptional friends for life. I served overseas and fought alongside some of the bravest soldiers in any Army. The Australian Army has given me the opportunity to carry on doing what I love and much like the British Army, is built on the same foundations, the ‘digger’ or rifleman.
I have enjoyed my time so far in the Australian Army from being a Platoon SGT in the tropics to my Army reserve exposure and appreciate the challenges that each new position presents me with. I am now looking forward to my next job as a Warrant Officer Class 2 and a posting to Delta Coy and continuing my steep learning curve in the training sphere. I hope you have enjoyed reading about our Battalion and how I got to be here. Stay safe fellow Riflemen. Deeds not Word, SWIFT AND BOLD!
Ilana Napier
      Battle PT in Australia, some things don’t change
   SGT Wainwright in front of the unit sign at the Headquarters in Irwin Barracks, KARRAKATTA Western Australia

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