As the Army and wider ADF looks to meet the demand for training a rapidly expanding fighting force, Brisbane-based company Kinetic Fighting has stepped to the fore. With the founder of the Australian Army Combatives Program (ACP) at its head, and an instructor cadre of ex-Special Forces combat veterans, ‘Kinetic’ is deep into a year-long trial at the School of Infantry (SOI), Singleton.
Embedded with SOI’s Combatives Training Team, Kinetic instructors are working alongside Army personnel to train incoming soldiers in the ACP and Enhanced Combat Shooting (ECS) systems, as well as the instructor programs.
The recent reviews into Australia’s defence have all revealed one thing: a need to expand capability and, in turn, increase the numbers of personnel ready to pull on the boots. More soldiers, of course, means more training must be delivered. The problem is, there aren’t enough uniformed instructors to do this at the speed now required.
Hence, in late 2022, Kinetic Fighting got the call to assist the School of Infantry to qualify soldiers in Enhanced Combat Shooting and the Army Combatives Program, starting in January this year.
The call to Kinetic wasn’t out of the blue, however; the company has been contributing to defence capability as a private contractor since 2014. That was the year its founder and CEO, former Commando SGT Paul Cale, formulated the Infantry Integrated Combat system that was introduced to SOI. He later developed this into ACP, with four levels of training to suit soldiers’ varying roles and requirements. Level 1 became compulsory training for all Army recruits in 2018, while Level 3 is now a must-have for Infantry soldiers.
Drawing on 25 years of military experience and a lifetime of martial arts training and instructing, Cale has remained the ADF’s go-to SME on combatives since the ACP’s inception. Having spent many hours pro-bono guiding its implementation and helping Army instructors hone their skill sets, primarily at Gallipoli Barracks’ 7th Brigade Combatives Centre, he remains passionate about his work.
“Our mission is to maximise the efficacy of any skill set a soldier needs, while also maximising the efficiency of the training,” says Cale. “This can be challenging, but by working side-by-side with the Army’s best instructors, we’ve seen great results.”
Kinetic has now developed further unit-specific courses, including SERE ACP for RAAF’s Combat Survival Training School. Cale has also personally assisted the NZDF in implementing ACP (or ‘ANZAC-P’, as it’s been dubbed) since our Kiwi counterparts adopted it in 2020.
It’s been a busy year for all at Kinetic, which delivers training to Defence in various skill sets besides ECS and ACP, including close-protection and tactical driving. The company also supplies opposition-force (OPFOR) teams and support staff for major field training exercises for both Army and Air Force.
“We are an employer of veterans, who are still supporting the national security infrastructure by increasing training capacity,” says Cale, who retired from the army in 2013. “By providing highly experienced instructors, we also help to keep valuable NCOs and SF operators in front-line units.”
Kinetic’s Managing Director is one of several on the Kinetic team still serving in the Army Reserve after many years of full-time soldiering.
“Through employing combat veterans, we enable the ADF to gain access to skills, knowledge and attributes that otherwise would’ve departed the internal eco-system,” explains the MD (he can’t be named due to ADF protocols).
So, where did this capability begin?
Kinetic Fighting — as both a concept and company — began to take shape way back in 2006, when Cale re-enlisted in the Ausralian Army. He was first tasked with providing subject-matter expertise for Army’s Unarmed Combat Cell; however, a critical shortage of Commando sergeants saw him posted on to the 4th Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment. This was then known as 4 RAR Commando and later became the 2nd Commando Regiment (2 CDO). There, Cale was tasked by Special Operations Commanders to rewrite the Australian Special Forces manual on Close-Quarter Fighting (CQF). He executed that brief in between — and during — five combat tours to Afghanistan and Iraq. Naturally, his personal combat experiences, and those of his fellow soldiers, directly informed his development of the program.
In 2011, Cale then led the establishment of the Integrated Combat Centre within 2 CDO headquarters at Holsworthy Barracks. This became the base for developing and delivering CQF training for SF units. It’s also where Cale developed a ‘train the trainer’ system for the CQF instructors of the Special Forces Training Centre (now Special Operations Command/SOCOMD). That package also included the beginnings of Extreme Close Shooting — a name given to Cale’s integrated shooting and weapon-retention methods by the American Special Operations Forces (SOF) he taught on secondment. (Having first instructed other Five Eyes SF personnel informally on dusty Afghan bases, Cale was later invited by the US Military to teach his CQF system to several units. Today, US Army Special Forces, aka ‘Green Berets’, are among those still using the Kinetic Fighting method within their official training package.)
Cale has since reworked the system to suit law-enforcement needs, too, and as a result, Kinetic has worked with several of the country’s top tactical response groups. The Corrections NSW Special Operations Group (responsible for quelling prison riots and undertaking high-risk prisoner transportation) is a recent recipient of such training, which also takes place at Singleton under an MOU with Defence.
“Kinetic Fighting was developed in the armed forces, but its principles have global application. These principles underpin our training programs, but each program is designed specifically for the industry in which that training will be applied,” Cale says. “To be most effective, the course must be highly relevant to the needs of the professionals we’re working with — so we make sure that it is.”
Following the success of IIC, in 2016 Kinetic began working closely with Army’s 1st Division to prepare soldiers for deployment. This Individual Combat Behaviours (ICB) training covers various interrelated skill sets, from combatives and shooting to tactical driving and behavioural threat assessment, devised to prevent ‘Blue on Green’ attacks in Afghanistan. Kinetic developed this training (formerly known as Individual Skills Enhancement Training, or ISET), specifically for Defence. Having identified a gap between its Special Forces and the rest of Army in relation to the training of key skills, the ADF sought training packages that aligned with current Special Forces practices, but could also be adapted for all other organisations and levels within the army. Kinetic’s Mission Specialist Instructors (MSI) were uniquely qualified to provide those packages — so, for the first time, the ADF engaged a private company to deliver the training.
ICB has since expanded in scope, with Kinetic delivering bespoke courses as needed. These employ numerous experts, from psychologists with a forensic specialty to interpreters with war-zone experience. The latter provide cultural awareness training and inject additional realism into combat scenario training for soldiers deploying to the Middle East.
Although its contribution to pre-deployment training ceased in 2020 after Australia’s withdrawal from Afghanistan, Kinetic has continued to provide Tactical Driving, CPP and ACP skill-enhancement training (among other services) to Defence. To do so, the company maintains a roster of experienced former soldiers, mainly from the 2nd Commando Regiment and Special Air Service Regiment (SASR).
Overall, Kinetic Fighting has now trained thousands of Defence personnel in a broad range of combat-related skills. While all of these enhance serving members’ ability to succeed in their missions, some have also proven life-saving — in ADF operations and beyond.
“No soldier should be sent to a battlefield unprepared,” says Cale. “So, the future of Defence capability lies in forming true partnerships with highly experienced external contractors to ensure high-quality training can be delivered consistently, and in the volumes needed.”