Bushmaster training reinforces ties

Twenty-five soldiers from the Indonesian National Armed Forces (TNI) Peacekeeping Centre proudly stood on parade at the Gary Holmes Centre at 5th Battalion, The Royal Australian Regiment (5RAR), after completing comprehensive training on the Bushmaster protected mobility vehicle (PMV).

Originally announced in 2021, the Parliament of Indonesia formally accepted the gift of 15 Bushmaster PMVs in April.

Within a matter of weeks, TNI soldiers touched down in Darwin to begin a comprehensive training package on the patrol vehicles covering basic operation, challenging 4×4 operations, vehicle maintenance and communications equipment, provided by Thales Digital Systems.

Major Matt Breckenridge, seconded to the TNI Peacekeeping Centre, was in Darwin overseeing the Bushmaster training.

In the driver portion, students started in the vehicle simulator where they covered basic PMV operation before moving onto the real thing and into the training area to tackle complicated terrain and water crossings.

The TNI soldiers then covered off on maintenance and basic servicing of the Bushmaster.

Interpreters provided translation, as TNI students were selected for their mechanical proficiency rather than their ability to speak English. This meant the training was able to tackle more in-depth and skilled maintenance issues.

“The purpose was to give these soldiers the skills they need to safely operate and maintain the vehicles and associated communications equipment in austere environments,” Major Breckenridge said.

“The Bushmaster is particularly well suited to missions where there is an increased risk of ambush, mines or improvised explosive devices, which are common to the mission areas where TNI conduct peacekeeping operations.”

Major Breckenridge noted the TNI were the seventh largest contributor to global peacekeeping operations in terms of personnel and equipment, with more than 2500 members deployed at any one time.

Two of the PMVs used in the training were already sporting their internationally recognisable United Nations livery, which Major Breckenridge said was an important reminder of the work they were doing.

“We’re very proud to be able to support them in developing that peacekeeping capability,” he said.

There was also a vital integration piece to the training, in keeping with the Defence Strategic Review’s emphasis on Indo-Pacific partnerships.

The TNI soldiers got the chance to experience the Top End, while building relationships with their hosts at 5RAR.

Major Breckenridge even took the TNI contingent fishing, where they hauled in a very respectable catch.

“The more exposure we can give TNI and Australian soldiers to working with each other, the better we understand one another and work together,” he said.

Defence image; Soldiers from the Indonesia National Armed Forces Peacekeeping Centre conduct vehicle maintenance on the Bushmaster Protected Mobility Vehicle at the 5th Battalion, The Royal Australian Regiment, Darwin, NT.

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