Personnel from the two nations have combined to hone close combat skills in an urban warfare environment.
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Australian and Tongan infantry have conducted joint urban close combat training at the United States Marine Corps Training Area Bellows as part of Exercise Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) 2022.
The forces were tasked with seizing control of a fictional village captured by an adversary, supported by counterparts from the United States, Malaysia and Sri Lanka.
“Australian and Tongan teams have been training together for almost two months now. Their camaraderie and cohesiveness really shows on the battlefield in an exercise like this,” Australian Army Lieutenant Colonel Mark Tutton said.
“Urban close combat is perhaps the most difficult and dynamic infantry operating environment. It’s a three-dimensional battlespace, 360 degrees and operating 24/7.
“In any one moment in time, our members will be providing humanitarian assistance, conducting peacekeeping operations and fighting a lethal battle all within the same day. It’s complex; your ethical decision making is really tested.”
The Tongan forces were led by HMAF Platoon Commander, Lieutenant Filise Siale.
“The boys went through clear and secure tasks throughout a complex urban area for the first time with live enemies and role players. The sound effects made the environment more confusing and interesting,” Lieutenant Siale said.
“It was a great experience for the boys, which adds to their individual skills and on the other hand, shows where there is room for improvement.”
The exercise followed a military transport drill, where forces from Australia, Malaysia, Sri Lanka and United States embarked on HMAS Canberra, before disembarking aboard United States Marine Corps CH-53 Sea Stallion helicopters.
Personnel were called in by a team of Australian Army and United States Marine Corps reconnaissance soldiers.
The reconnaissance team led the multinational force through the jungle toward the village, after which they secured the area for the close combat training excise between Australian and Tongan forces.
This latest drill follows Exercise Air Shark, where personnel from 8th/9th Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment (8/9RAR) took part in Exercise Air Shark, which tested force readiness.
The Bravo Company platoon was deployed from Gallipoli Barracks, travelling in three protected mobility vehicles and a G-wagon before arriving at RAAF Base Amberley.
Upon arrival, the troops loaded all equipment onto a C-17A Globemaster transport aircraft bound for Toowoomba.
[Related: Army tests mobility capability]