ADF completes Exercise Northern Shield in North West Australia

The inaugural Exercise Northern Shield has concluded in Exmouth, Western Australia, with about 1000 troops and almost a million pounds of cargo crossing the continent in the past week.

Exercise Northern Shield was the first major military activity to be held in the remote north-west region, practising the ADF’s ability to deploy a large joint force across significant distances very quickly.

Troops, vehicles and aircraft converged on Exmouth from as far as Amberley, Brisbane, Sydney, Darwin, Tindal and Canberra.

Commander Deployable Joint Force Headquarters (DJFHQ) Major General Stuart Smith said the exercise was the most effective way to validate the ADF’s ability to rapidly project forces.

“We need to be able to deploy to any location across the continent whenever the need arises,” MAJGEN Smith said.

“Here we have reinforced that we can project forces quickly and maintain the ability to protect our natural resources and population centres in the event of any threat or natural disaster.”

Exmouth Shire President, Councillor Turk Shales, said the Defence presence in the region had been welcomed by the local population

“We have loved every second of it. The whole town is talking about the defence force, the kids are loving the forces being here and the relationships and activities have been incredible.

“The community engagement by the forces has been second to none, we fully understand that it is an exercise in warfare and an exercise in protecting what is ours, our country and we welcome that protection,” Cr Shales said.

Exercise Northern Shield involved a wide range of capabilities and equipment from different areas of Defence, working together in a Joint Task Force to defeat a simulated enemy threat. The Joint Task Force was led by the Brisbane-based DJFHQ.

During the exercise the Regional Force Surveillance Units activated reconnaissance teams to provide long-range observation, a 2nd Commando Regiment Company conducted a parachute insertion and night raid against a hostile force

An Army Ready Combat Team provided population protection with aviation support from Super Hornets, Hawk 127 jets and Tiger Armed Reconnaissance Helicopters.

Air Force C-17 Globemasters, C-130J Hercules and KC-30 Multi Role Tanker Transport aircraft provided the strategic lift for the troops, while E-7 Wedgetail and AP-3C Orion aircraft provided intelligence and surveillance capability from above.

MAJGEN Smith said it was impressive to see our sailors, soldiers, airmen and airwomen performing at the highest level in such a cohesive, collegiate way.

“The fact the ADF has also been able to concurrently conduct the Sea Series amphibious exercises on the east coast makes the achievements of Northern Shield even more significant.

“North-west Australia is a Defence priority and I am confident that we have the right processes, capabilities and people to respond effectively to any contingencies in the region.”

Exercise Northern Shield was conducted from 19-24 September 2015.

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