Soldiers fight in good company

Department of Defence

Australian soldiers from Rifle Company Butterworth (RCB) learnt how to operate in the jungle from Malaysian Army experts on Exercise Harringaroo in Malaysia.

Held in Penang from October 8 to 19, the exercise brought new levels of integration between the Australian and Malaysian armies in conventional warfare training.

The Malaysian Army provided training to members of the RCB in jungle tracking, survival and operations. Private Brandon Herbert took part in the operations training.

“It was good to see the techniques the Malaysian Army use to control their sections and platoons in the jungle,” Private Herbert said.

“We’ve trained everything from section patrols and ambushes up to platoon-oriented attacks, all whilst combating the local environment.

“They’ve always helped us wherever they could. We’re all here to learn from them so it’s been great having those interactions.”

The Malaysian team also focused on self-sustenance in the field.

“We did a three-day survival stint where a lot of the focus was on finding moving water, how to set up traps and snares to catch food along with identifying edible plants,” Private Herbert said.

“You’re trying to adapt to a completely different environment. The biggest thing is finding that happy balance between the resources that you need and those you don’t.”

Officer Commanding RCB Major Cameron Clark said the exercise was a chance to deepen the relationship between Australian and Malaysian forces.

“This is a really unique opportunity for our soldiers to gain experience in both the tactical jungle environment as well as operating with the people of this region,” Major Clarke said.

“It’s a critical partnership we have with the Malaysian Armed Forces. It’s one we need to maintain into the future to continue to contribute to stability in the region.”

His company was fully under Malaysian command for Harringaroo and he was pleased to see the ease in which companies operated together.

“We’ve been able to demonstrate components of our Australian orders structure, including our back briefs to command, which are less common in the Malaysian orders process,” he said.

“It’s been good to show how a subordinate commander will still discuss and confirm command intent, before going away and planning something within that scope.”

Major Clarke said the Australians worked with Malaysian personnel who had trained in Australia and shared that knowledge with their own battalions.

“Likewise, we’ve been able to learn from the Malaysians how to thrive in the jungle environment – how to build individual shelters, survival techniques, how to find water – and will take that back home to Australia.”

The exercise was also a chance for personnel to form relationships with their Malaysian counterparts.

“Soldiers in any nation love sharing their training, their skills, their food and information about their home, sport and culture,” Major Clarke said.

“It’s a small world within the military profession and those individual relationships will continue to help us operate together in the future.”

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