The 3rd Battalion, The Royal Australian Regiment (3RAR) has kept the ball rolling moving into Quarter Two. The quarter started with a day of remembrance for 3RAR’s History, Kapyong Day, and comprised of a number of exercises, each building on the last, which put the fighting forces capacity and experiences from previous exercises to the test, in preparation for Exercise TALISMAN SABRE 2023.
The day that is but a moment in the history of the Battalion, but the actions and sacrifices made during that battle will last in the memory of each and every member that has served in the unit.
A Brief History
“On the night of 22 April 1951, Chinese forces launched a major offensive against United Nations forces defending the South Korean capital, Seoul, and positions further east. Next morning, the 27th British Commonwealth Brigade (including the 3rd Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment) was ordered to the valley of the Kapyong River about 60 kilometres north-east of Seoul, where South Korean forces were being driven back. During a night of fierce fighting and throughout the daylight hours of 24 April the Australians and a Canadian battalion, supported by a New Zealand artillery regiment, stalled the Chinese advance before eventually withdrawing after dark. At a cost of 32 men killed, 59 wounded and three missing (taken prisoner), the Australians had helped hold up the Chinese 60th Division and inflicted heavy casualties which totalled more than 500 killed alone. The 2 PPCLI and 3 RAR battalions bore the brunt of the assault and stopped PVA divisional forces estimated at 10,000–20,000 in strength during the hard-fought defensive battle. Today, the battle is regarded as the most famous and significant action fought by the Canadian and Australian armies in Korea, and the most famous battle fought by the Canadian Armed Forces since WWII. For their contribution to this action, 3 RAR was awarded a US Presidential Citation.” – Australian War Memorial, 2020
For the week leading up to the 24th of Apr 23, the battalion took to the parade ground. For the Rifle Companies, it saw the conduct of numerous iterations and practices of drill. As for Support Company, they were tasked with development of the parade ground layout and FOB design, along with a number of tactical employments of crash action drills from Mortars and Armoured assets, the notorious M113AS4, conducting high-speed manoeuvres. The week culminated in the Kapyong Day Parade, which showed that the long days in the sun during rehearsals were all worth it, well that’s what family members said. Post the parade, the battalion gathered in the sacred ground of ‘The Chat’ with family members to undertake in an afternoon of activities that built culture and repour among the soldiers and their loved ones.
Ex BROLGA RUN
Once the memorial events of Kapyong Day and Anzac Day were complete, it saw a swift transition from drill mastery to professional soldiering in the field with all sights realigned and fixed onto Exercise BROLGA RUN 2023 (ExBR23). The exercise was a rapid advance that saw all members of 3RAR operate in an operational environment. The exercise consisted of B Coy deploy as a Ready Combat Team – light element, tasked to infiltrate a local township and dismantle the enemy and various militia groups within the societal system from the inside. On the other hand, the green role environment was calling A and C Coy to conduct assaults over features, through urban areas, clearances through creek-lines and manoeuvres across the unforgiving terrain of the Townsville Field Training Area. 3RAR was spread across the AO, with A Coy attached to BG EAGLE to the east and C Coy on the west, with Tank callsigns operating on all fronts. The operational tempo was sustained through the battlespace, maintaining the initiative with 3 Brigade. Within a matter of days, the Brigade main objectives were complete, and the AO cleared. The completion of this exercise saw the Brigade reach their training requirement before having to conduct Exercise TALISMAN SABRE later in the year.
An opportunity unlike any other, Exercise CAPITAL 2023 (ExCAP23) allowed all elements of 3RAR to further develop and train on learning points from ExBR23, but this time in a live-fire context. Consolidating from lessons observed from the first part of the year, ExCAP23 was designed to replicate operational settings with the entire activity executed in an immersive environment intended to test the individual soldier skill, concentration and mindset; the integration of all supporting arms both organic and external, and commanders at all levels up to Combat Team level.
A Coy first up in the box, saw the deployment as an Armoured Infantry Company. The callsign achieved all lead up requirements before progressing to the larger manoeuvres, including Combat Team live fire with mechanised infantry, engineers and tank. B Coy seized a great integration opportunity by supporting an Artillery gun lift and occupation of a defensive position via AMO. Not only did the members of the B Coy get to conduct live-fire defensive operations, but also observe the M777 155mm Howitzer Cannon fire in direct lay in support of defending the gun line. As for C Coy, they dismounted to close with the enemy. The activity saw integration of engineers, mortars, direct fire support weapons, snipers and reconnaissance elements in order to bring to light, learning opportunities for employment of said callsigns in future operations. Overall, the exercise provided a great chance for personal development at all levels. The memories of the arduous exercise will be held close, for when members need to complete difficult tasks that the military demands in the future.
Ex TALISMAN SABRE Build Up
All previous exercises have been building toward an important activity. Ex TALISMAN SABRE is our opportunity to contribute to, and test the validation of 1 (AS) Division as the unit of action. BG KAPYONG, along with our Wantok brothers from 2nd Royal Pacific Island Regiment, PNG Defence Force, are providing the OPFOR effect for the activity.
ExTS23 is the culmination of the year’s large-scale field activities. The remainder of the year focuses on the deployment of B Coy, 3RAR to PNG, the force generation of specialist capabilities, and a couple of social and regimental functions along the way.