2IBCT tests mettle, strengthens multinational military partnerships in Outback

| June 1, 2017 | 0 Comments

MOUNT BUNDEY TRAINING AREA, Australia — A Soldier (left) assigned, of B Company, 1-21 Infantry Battalion, 2nd Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division, converses in a friendly exchange with two Soldiers assigned to the Japanese Ground Defense Force (right) following a training event at Southern Jackaroo 2017, May 24. Southern Jackaroo is an annual, trilateral exercise hosted by the Australian Defense Force and also includes elements of the Japanese Ground Defense Force and U.S. Marine Rotational Force-Darwin. This exercise helps achieve multinational interoperability and enhances existing military relationships with allied partners in the Pacific region. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Alvin Reeves)

Maj. Karen Roxberry
2nd Infantry Brigade Combat Team Public Affairs
25th Infantry Division

DARWIN, Australia — Australia’s “Outback” is home to some of the world’s most exotic and dangerous animals, and its desolate plains – coupled with scorching heat – offer a challenge of a lifetime to the most physically fit and mentally tough Soldier.

From May 18-June 2, Soldiers assigned to B Company, “Bulls,” 1st Battalion, 21st Infantry Regiment, 2nd Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division, tested their mettle in the Outback, participating in exercise Southern Jackaroo 2017, or SJ, an annual, trilateral military training exercise sponsored by Australia Defense Force with participation of elements of the Japanese Ground Self Defense Force and U.S. Marine Rotational Force-Darwin.

SJ 2017 is one of many annual multinational military training exercises aimed at enhancing professional partnerships, operational readiness and interoperability between U.S. Pacific Command and allied partners within the Asia-Pacific and Indian Ocean Rim regions.

“Exercise Southern Jackaroo is all about improving that critical defense collateral relationship between the defense forces of the U.S., Japan and Australia,” said the commander of 1st Bde., Australian Army, Brigadier Ben James. “Train hard and fight easy – that’s what we are doing out here at Mount Bundey Training Area. Soldiers from all three nations are learning tough lessons about surviving in the field and how best to work alongside each other: It’s been a great exercise.”

“Southern Jackaroo offers an opportunity for our Soldiers to gain a deeper understanding of how we fit into the Pacific area of operation,” said Lt. Col. James Hart, commander of 1-21st Inf. Bn. “It also provides an understanding of the capabilities that our Australian, Japanese and Marine partners (U.S.) bring to the fight: how to operate in a joint environment.”

SJ originally started in 2013 as a combined marksmanship event following the Australian Army Skills at Arms Meeting, a shooting event that involves over 12 nations.

MOUNT BUNDEY TRAINING AREA, Australia—1st Lt. Paul Mathy (left), of B Company, 1-21 Infantry Battalion, 2nd Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division, converses in a friendly exchange with the Australia to U.S. liaison officer (right) following a training event at Southern Jackaroo 2017, May 24. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Alvin Reeves)

In 2015, SJ evolved into a field training and live-fire exercise with the Australian Army’s Ready Bde. hosting the event.

This year’s exercise was hosted by the Australian Army’s 1st Bde. and included an emphasis on live fire at the platoon level and company level within a Battle Group construct.

“It was very rewarding to see leaders at all levels coordinating directly and effectively with their peers of a different nationality in tactical situations, and to see Soldiers of all ranks gravitating to each other during down periods to learn more and develop as a team,” said Capt. John Voss, commander for B Co., 1-21st Inf. Bn.

SJ 2017 incorporated blank and live-fire scenarios, dismounted and mounted offensive actions, sniper/marksmanship training and defensive operations.

Training for this year’s exercise occurred at the Mount Bundey Training Area in Australia’s Northern Territory, which proved to be a unique and highly physically demanding training environment for the Soldiers of B Co.

“The outback is uniquely demanding. In order to maintain the effectiveness of the individual Soldier over time, we learned how to plan operations to minimize the physical burden during the hottest part of the day and incorporate water sustainment in every aspect of the mission,” said Voss. “We also learned to maximize equipment that is not traditionally necessary, like mosquito nets and sun shade.”

One of the common themes throughout the exercise was how all three nations embraced their differences. Using them as learning lessons, they could incorporate in their own training, but also leveraged similarities to build camaraderie.

“Although, there are differences, we are all quite similar,” said Pvt. Zac Nathan, a Soldier assigned to 1st Bde., Australian Army. “Southern Jackaroo will help the Australian military in future training; the U.S. military uses a much faster pace when conducting TTPs and missions in urban environments. We can take this as a learning point towards how we train.”

“The biggest take-away for the Bulls is how similar we are to our partners, said Voss. “We do a few things differently, but at the end of the day, we know we could swap out individual Soldiers or entire platoons with a partnered Australian unit and not miss a beat.”

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Category: Exercises, News

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