The 13th Brigade in Western Australia has evolved from a part-time workforce brigade into a test bed for innovation and modernisation across Army.

13 Engineer Regiment was officially raised at Irwin Barracks in July, the first of its kind in Defence, with a deliberate focus on science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM).

The 13 Engineer Regiment structure reflects two squadrons, the current 13 Field Squadron and a new specialist 22 Engineer Squadron.

22 Engineer Squadron has been created as a STEM incubator, adding capabilities including rapid fabrication, robotics, and decision support, to enhance both internal Defence and external industry organisations.

Acting Commander of 13 Engineer Regiment Lieutenant Colonel Michael Hadlow said 13th Brigade has been propelled to the forefront of Army’s modernisation, transformation and innovation program, providing an enhanced engineering capability for the whole of Western Australia.

“By enhancing Army’s engineering capabilities in Western Australia, Army is harnessing the population’s potential in the region, while increasing Army’s ability to respond to domestic operations,” Lieutenant Colonel Hadlow said.

In a deliberate move, the IXG/MakerSpace lab was integrated into 22 Engineer Squadron, acting as a backbone for 13 Engineer Regiment based STEM capabilities.

This provided a ‘think hub’ for 13th Brigade members, by developing critical thinking and an agile mindset through design and prototyping.

MakerSpace, based at Irwin Barracks, is equipped with a comprehensive workshop, electronics lab and 3D printers, open to all services and encouraging innovation, non-linear thinking and idea sharing.

Enhancing the way Australian Army soldiers and officers at 13th Brigade think, train and learn is a critical component of preparing Defence’s people to face future threats in a rapidly changing environment.

In another first, not only for 13th Brigade but also the Australian Army, six reservist specialist service officers were appointed through the BHP/Army Workforce Mobility Trial (WMT).

The WMT bespoke training program fast-tracks recruitment by mapping specialist skillsets into an Army reservist position and creating a shared workforce model between the two organisations.

The new BHP recruits have started their military journey in 22 Engineer Squadron and will provide an enhanced capability, bringing a real-world mindset to support Army and the broader Defence network.

Commander of the 13th Brigade Brigadier Brett Chaloner said an integrated Defence system in Western Australia is not only exciting, but critical in an increasingly unstable global environment.

“Enhancing partnerships and habitual collaboration with industry and academia, providing military based solutions to real world issues and threats, including rapid prototyping and fabrication, makes us stronger together,” Brigadier Chaloner said.