Gladstone soldiers 'the strongest battle group' at international exercise
MORE than 600 Queensland soldiers in the Australian Army Reserve will return to their civilian jobs today after participating in the largest military mobilisation since the Second World War.
In the past two weeks, the Army Reserve's Battle Group Cannan reinforced more than 30,000 Australian and international defence personnel participating in Exercise Talisman Sabre 2017 (TS17) at the Shoalwater Bay Training Area near Rockhampton.
Company Commander of the CQ soldiers, Major Edward Dahlheimer, said the group contained at least 800 members, mostly from Queensland.
Major Dahlheimer said soldiers from 22 Reserves units formed BG Cannan, named after World War I commander Major General James Harold Cannan.
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Maj Dahlheimer was attached to the Royal Australian Air Force as a Liaison Officer for the duration of the exercise.
He said once the soldiers had arrived in Townsville they conducted safety briefs, practised drills and received their orders, before being deployed to the Shoalwater Bay Training Area.
From Beecher himself, Maj Dahlheimer moved to the Gladstone region in 1995 and said eight locals were members in the group.
"I've done several of these exercises before - I started back in the 90s," he said.
Maj Dahlheimer said he always wanted to be in the military.
"To serve your country and your community is why most people join up," he said.
With countries including the US, New Zealand and Japan participating, the military exercise held every three years encouraged international collaboration, integration and camaraderie.
"It's the biggest one our unit has done, it's a big bonding experience for many and it's such an adventure," Maj Dahlheimer said.
"It's a fun experience, the guys get to see equipment and get into tanks and things that they usually don't get to do. I got to see all these helicopters and UAVs we use in the military now."
The battle group made up 25% of the total ground combat power in TS17.
"We had the most people and we supplied the strongest battle group," Maj Dahlheimer said.
BG Cannan's role during the two-week-long international exercise was to protect the Third Brigades and their supplies and communication nodes.
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"They (the troops) have a combat service battalion and so our main role includes protecting that and the vehicles that carried their stores to the front line," he said.
Maj Dahlheimer explained BG Cannan reinforced the participating troops by providing man power and support elements.
"We did convoy protection, route clearance ... our roles lay with fuel, water, ammunition, food and communications," he said.