A training team from the 7th Combat Brigade has delivered corporal and sergeant courses to members of the Vanuatu Mobile Force (VMF) and the Police Maritime Wing – two of the three arms of the Vanuatu Police Force (VPF) – at Cook Barracks, Port Vila.

This was part of a three-week specialist training package delivered by an Australian Army Mobile Training Team to the VPF.

Delivered under the Vanuatu-Australia Defence Cooperation Program, the training focused on the development of the next generation of leaders in the VMF, and included drill, operational planning, large-team orders, navigation and leadership.

Sergeants’ course instructor Warrant Officer Class Two (WO2) Gus O’Neill explained the basis of the training program completed by the VPF members.

“It was centred around having a baseline of leadership, focusing on trying to get people out of their shell and to be comfortable talking around their teams as leaders,” WO2 O’Neill said.

“Then we moved into operations-style training – small tactics and orders, and how to deliver those orders effectively.”

WO2 O’Neill said he was inspired by the enthusiasm of the course participants to learn new skills they could employ in the workplace as community police officers.

“To work with the VPF and see how motivated they are to learn, and the presence they bring to the classroom, has really been something to see. It’s been fun,” he said.

“Confidence-building has been a huge part of the training.

“Seeing VPF members evolve and move forward, gaining their own confidence has been extremely rewarding.”

WO2 O’Neill explained why leadership was so important to the VPF personnel, who operate as protectors in small communities throughout the Vanuatu archipelago.

“The VPF are leaders in their environment. They need to effectively lead to fill the important role that they play in protecting communities across Vanuatu,” he said.

“The VPF are out in the street looking after the people.

“Leadership and being able to hold themselves in high regard is extremely important to support this important security function.”

WO2 O’Neill also took some valuable lessons away from his time in Vanuatu.

“I’ve learned a lot about their culture,” he said.

“We’ve been very fortunate to be invited into a different house and different nakamals [meeting places] almost every afternoon.

“The way they speak to each other without technology – it’s been an enjoyable experience for me and something I look forward to taking home to my family.”

Australian Army’s Corporal Stewart Selwood and members of the Vanuatu Police Force use a Barrett 4090 high-frequency Man-Pack Radio to speak to other participants in a corporals’ course run by the Australian Army Mobile Training Team in Port Vila, Vanuatu. Photo: Corporal Robert Whitmore

VMF WO2 Donald Kilman said he appreciated his time training with the Australian Army and looked forward to applying what he learned into his everyday work.

“The course has been very interesting – it showed us some skills and tools to be a better version of yourself in the workplace, and around your teammates,” WO2 Kilman said.

“I’m someone who likes to learn new stuff and I think for the short period of time they’ve been here, I have learned so much.

“I appreciate what the trainers came over with; it’ll enable me to become a better person in the VPF.”

WO2 Kilman also explained why effective leadership was so important to the VPF’s unique style of policing in small, tight-knit communities.

“As discipline officers, we project what the public see of us – a good leader leads by example, he leads the way, and he teaches others to follow him,” he said.

“Leadership is important because the public looks to the police for safety.

“I’ve seen changes within us. Some of the officers have changed their way of thinking.”

WO2 Kilman said he would welcome further training opportunities with the ADF in the future.

More photos can be viewed on the Defence image gallery.