107 Battery RAA Association

December 2017
From the Battery Commander – Major Brendan Perkins reports
As we creep ever closer to the end of the training year, I thought it prudent to update the members of the Association of the progress of the Battery throughout the year.
Since the last edition which saw the Battery assume it’s position as the ‘Ready’ Battery supporting 1 RAR as the Ready Battalion, training has continued to ensure that individual and collective skills are maintained to the required standard ensuring the Battery is postured to respond to any contingency. This readiness was tested with the deployment of several Battery members at short notice to the Philippines to support the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFoP) in a training and mentoring role to assist in their fight against terrorism. The Battery also deployed personnel on HMAS Choules to support A Coy. 1 RAR during Exercise SOUTHERN KATIPO in New Zealand when they were diverted to Vanuatu to provide humanitarian support due to a volcanic eruption that displaced thousands of civilians. Finally, the Battery Commander’s Tactical Headquarters and callsign 23 deployed to Weipa as part of the ADF’s high readiness “call-out” activity, Exercise NORTHERN SHIELD to evacuate Australian citizens from the Republic of Cape York.

Lieutenant Stacey Furlong (GPO 107 Bty) speaks with locals on Pentecost Island during Operation Vanuatu Assist 2017
Photo by LSIS Jake Badior
© Commonwealth of Australia 2017

These activities culminated in Exercise NADZAB, the final Regimental exercise for the year. With so much movement within key appointments Ex NADZAB was developed as an opportunity for the Battery’s junior leaders to ‘step-up’. Junior leadership has always been a key characteristic of a gun battery and the junior leaders of 107 Battery did not disappoint. In trying conditions, shifting between monsoonal rain and stinging heat, the Battery easily met the training objectives including Forward Observer’s quick fireplans and the full suite of technical missions, as well as some unplanned objectives including vehicle recovery. The exercise finished on a high note with the Regimental Family Day conducted at High Range, with family and friends treated to both static and live-firing displays.
We now move into a period of courses, qualifying our teams, for their next appointments. We will be running advanced gunnery and signaller courses, as well as qualifying our drivers on the new fleet of gun tractors that we will take delivery of in 2018. We also conducted our end of year ‘Dip’ at Rambutans which was a great opportunity farewell the members of the Battery, who will leave on posting and recognise outstanding performance throughout the year. It is also worth noting that at the recent RAA Regimental Conference, two Rammers, GNR Jake Hill and BDR Brian Reid were nominated for RAA Best Soldier (Mattner Award) and Best JNCO (Ewen Award) respectively. GNR Jake Hill was awarded the Mattner Award and a prize that included a watch and overseas study tour.
The BSM and I will remain for a second year in the Battery, which is an honour that is becoming unfortunately less common. I look forward to continued engagement with the association and I thank the committee for their ongoing support. I would also encourage members of the association to follow 4 Regiment on Facebook (@4regt) as it is a great way to keep up to date with the happenings in not only the Regiment but 107 Battery. I wish all association and Battery members a great and safe Christmas.

Gunner Jake Hill (107 Bty), United States Army Sergeant Omalhie Campbell and Corporal Wang Haoyu from the Chinese People’s Liberation Army stop for a break during a 15km overnight hike up Mount Bartle Frere, the tallest mountain in Queensland, as part of Exercise Kowari 2017.
Photo by LSIS Jake Badior
© Commonwealth of Australia 2017

BDR Dale Cruickshank School of Artillery and BDR Clinton Martin 1 Regt, RAA (On promotion),
LT Dean Nicolle 8/12 Regt, RAA (On promotion) and LT Fergus Robertson 1st Recruit Training Battalion
CAPT Luke Seymour School of Artillery
To Captain: LT Dean Nicolle
To Sergeant: BDR Clinton Martin and BDR Brian Reid
To Bombardier: LBDR Aaron Smith and LBDR William Smith
To Lance Bombardier: GNR Ronald Bevan, GNR Stewart Corey, GNR Harley Goscombe, GNR Matthew Leigh, GNR Steven Wallace and GNR Callum Wright
Most Outstanding Soldier – GNR Jake Hill
Most Proficient Junior NCO – BDR Brian Reid
Best Junior Officer – LT Fergus Robertson
Best Senior NCO – SGT Mick Saliba
Best Artillery Command Systems Operator – GNR Steven Wallace
Best Joint Fires Team Signaller – GNR Michael Neilson
Best Gun Number – GNR Matthew Leigh
Best Driver – GNR Peter Booth
Champion Shot – GNR Cody Shields
Most Outstanding Performance in Sport – BDR Jordan Hunter

August 2017
From the Battery Commander – Major Brendan Perkins provided this report from one of his FOs, while the Battery is on exercise TS17 - Talisman Sabre 2017.
“Road to Ready” By Captain Karl Vatzlavik
The lead up training period prior to the assumption of the responsibility of the Ready Battle Group (RBG) (Editor: The Battalion group including support elements on 24 hours notice to deploy anywhere) is an intense and taxing time for both commanders and soldiers alike. Intrinsic to the ‘Road to Ready’ are challenges and rewards and culminating in the Battle Group attaining the peak of its training proficiency at ATL/S 7. For 107 Battery this was keenly felt, as they hit the ground running at the start of the year. The Battery deployed on Exercise First Run on the 6th of February, a week after returning from Christmas leave, and this training intensity would continue for the next six months. Over which time the Battery developed its skills in three key areas: technical proficiency, tactical knowledge and our adaptability. All of which aided them to reach the end of the ‘Road to Ready’ In which they assumed the RBG responsibility confident in their ability to coordinate and provide joint fires and effects in support of the warfighting capability of the 1 RAR led Battle Group Coral.  

The technical skills of 107 Battery were put to the test from the start of Exercise First Run. This was a two-week regimental technical gunnery exercise conducted in Townsville Field Training Area. Over this period, the Battery was tested on its ability to provide timely and accurate surface-to-surface fires. They fired a suite of technical mission profiles including coordinated illumination, laser registration, smoke and fireplanning. One particular achievement was the successful execution of an FO’s laser fireplan in which targets were silently marked utilising the Vector laser range finder. By negating the need to adjust targets prior to H-Hour, his increased the first-round accuracy on the objectives without compromising surprise and security. The gun line also fired under modified safety, in which there was no requirement for the Safety Officer to check the guns. This allowed the Detachment Commanders to develop confidence in their skills and heightened the realism of training for the Battery. For the observers, the exercise concluded with a live fire danger close serial, with rounds falling 350 metres from the observers’ location. This tested their technical skills and the confidence and trust in the gunline’s skills. Throughout the exercise the Battery also developed their ability to use the in service digital fire control system; successfully calling in, adjusting and treating targets without a word being spoken on a radio. On returning from Exercise First Run these technical skills would be further tested along with our tactical acumen as we integrated with Battle Group Coral for the upcoming exercises.
The true test of the Battery came through integration with and support to the Battle Group. This was most evident in Exercises Warfighter and Brolga Strike. On Exercise Warfighter the Battery force concentrated with 1 RAR to form Battle Group Coral. The Battle Group deployed to the training area in March and were tested on Combat Team level operations by the Combat Training Centre.

News from the New Battery Commander

Dear Fellow Rammers,
I would like to take the opportunity to introduce myself as the new Battery Commander of 107 Battery, 4th Regiment. My name is Brendan Perkins and I assumed command of the Battery in January 2017.

I enlisted in the Army in 1995 and was posted as a Gun Number to 108 Battery, where I served in a number of positions, deploying twice to East Timor. In 2004, I was accepted into the Royal Military College – Duntroon and commissioned as a Lieutenant and posted as the Meteorology and Survey Troop Commander in the newly established 20th Surveillance and Target Acquisition Regiment in 2006. After a deployment to Afghanistan as an Unmanned Aerial Systems Troop Commander, I was posted to the 1st Regiment as the Battery Captain of Headquarters Battery. Whilst posted to the 1st Regiment, I deployed to Afghanistan twice more, once as a Forward Observer with 105 Battery and as the Fire Support Officer with 104 Battery.

Following my Regimental postings, I completed postings as an instructor at the Australian Defence Force Academy and as the Senior Career Adviser – RAA at the Directorate of Soldier Career Management – Army.

It is truly a great honour to assume command of the Battery and it would be remiss of me not to mention the outstanding work done by my predecessor Major James Casey and his Battery Sergeant Major WO2 Jason Bourke. Both remain in the Regiment, James as the Operations Officer and WO2 Bourke as the acting Master Gunner.

To date the Battery has deployed on two (one and a half) exercises, Exercise First Run and Warfighter Exercise.

The design of Exercise First Run allowed for a period of Battery level dry firing, reviews of procedures and included an airmobile occupation. This was followed by a short but reasonably intense period of Battery level live firing culminating in a ‘Danger Close’ practice which a great way to establish trust in your Battery after only three weeks of command. The exercise concluded with a period focused on refining digital procedures and my first Battery Commander’s Fire Plan, which was planned and circulated entirely digitally, my first voice transmission was a SITREP, “India elements crossing LD now, out.” The benefit of this ability to plan and circulate targets digitally provides an incredible advantage in electronic security and the speed of response.

The Warfighter Exercise, is a Battle Group level field training exercise focused on high-end warfighting against a near-peer adversary. The exercise was facilitated by the Combat Training Centre and saw the majority of the Battery instrumented with lasers and GPS. The exercise had a few notable moments including the observers attached to C Company, 1 RAR learning when an airmobile is cancelled; the back-up plan is normally walking. The gunline did an excellent job remaining undetected against both enemy radars and mobile raiding parties. Unfortunately, the exercise had to be cut short to allow the Brigade to return to Townsville to commence preparations for its response to Cyclone Debbie. As I write, members of the Battery are ready to assist the North Queensland community.

I look forward to more regular contributions in the future.


Brendan Perkins
Battery Commander
107 Battery

December 2016
Fellow Rammers, This will be my last opportunity to write to you as the incumbent Battery Commander; with the beginning of 2017 begins my new posting as the Operations Officer of 4th Regiment RAA, and my handover to the incoming Battery Commander, Major Brendan Perkins. Brendan joins the Rammers after a stint at the Directorate of Soldier Career Management – Army, where he has spent two years tirelessly shattering the dreams of many a gunner hoping for a posting to Brisbane. Brendan is well placed to take over the Battery, ably supported by the incoming Battery Sergeant Major, Warrant Officer David Cleland, who comes to us from the School of Artillery.

Since I last wrote, the Battery has remained busy. We deployed to High Range on Exercise NADZAB for two weeks, where we fired a number of missions and I was subjected to my first BC’s fireplan by the Commanding Officer. I’m pleased to report that all went well, and that the Battery met the challenge as always. The exercise finished with the conduct of danger close missions, and the dedication of the ‘Captain Bryce Duffy Observation Post’ on Ant Hill. Bryce was the Assistant Operations Officer of the Regiment when he was deployed to Afghanistan to replace an injured fellow officer and was killed in an ‘insider attack’ in his Forward Operating Base at Sorkh Bed in October 2011. Immediately prior to the dedication, the Duffy family joined the Regiment for the direct fire competition, in time to see one of the Battery’s detachment’s flip a car onto its roof after a direct hit! BDR Wyatt’s A Detachment was declared the winning detachment from across the Regiment, and he collected his prize (the RSM had put a carton on no-one flipping the car) with a huge grin on his face.

Just over a month later, the Regiment deployed on Exercise BROLGA’S RUN, the Brigade exercise at High Range. Working with our supported infantry unit, the First Battalion, the Royal Australian Regiment (1 RAR); the Battery completed the exercise supporting live fire company attacks for 1 RAR, 2 RAR and the Second Cavalry Regiment (2 Cav Regt), whose tanks are newly arrived from Darwin. Having responsibility to support 1 RAR’s attack with VIPs in attendance, the supporting fireplan was well executed by the observer, BDR Clint Martin (Best JNCO 2016) and the gunline; once ‘continuous fire’ was ordered, the rate of fire was awesome. No sooner had the echoes of the last round exploding faded, the whistle of the next volley of rounds pierced the cacophony of the attack. It was extremely fitting as my last fireplan as the BC.

Being the year’s end, we also enjoyed the opportunity to promote a number of Rammers, and recognise those who have performed admirably. While we did not manage to secure the title of champion battery for 2016, the reputation of the Battery remains head & shoulders above our sister batteries. In the two years I have commanded, no other Battery has deployed on every field exercise in its own right – both 106 & 109 Batteries have had to combine their CPs, gunlines or observer parties to get out the door in good order. This has not been easy, and where it could have been used as an excuse for a poor performance or a number of mistakes, the Rammers have insisted on setting the highest standard, which our sister batteries have failed to meet on a number of occasions. It speaks volumes that the Rammers, despite all the challenges and difficulties laid before them, and more than enough room to make excuses, have set the bar for others to aspire to. The Rammers have persistently led the way for the Regiment, and while the title of ‘champions’ eludes us (improvement in sports competitions is a key handover note for Major Perkins), the reputation persists – even outside of 4 Regt, gunners remark that 107 Battery has a reputation for getting the job done, and doing it exceedingly well.

2017 will be an extremely busy year; since joining the Regiment four years ago, it is very much my experience that we are getting busier each year, and leave breaks are both few and far between. Luckily, our Christmas break offers us the opportunity for time with our families and friends before the challenges of ‘readying’ for deployment begin. As many of you would have learned from my previous articles, the Army now uses a 12 month, three year cycle between its three combat brigades where they are either ‘readying’ for deployment, ‘ready’ for deployment, or in ‘reset’ after a period of readiness. Our Regiment is currently ‘readying’, preparing to support scheduled operations in the Middle East and on standby for short-notice deployments around the globe. Our Battery will contribute to the Army’s short-notice deployment capability that will be ‘online’ later in 2017, requiring much of the Regiment’s attention and resources to focus on the Rammers’ preparations. This will include some time aboard the Navy’s new amphibious ships, HMA Ships Canberra and Adelaide.

As my time comes to hand over to the new command team in January, I am thankful for the support, enthusiasm and dedication of the Battery, and similarly the Association. I’ve never experienced a battery association as close as ours, and I hope it is more widespread than I have known.
My final contribution as Battery Commander would not be complete without sincere and heartfelt thanks to my Battery, and my command team. The success of the Rammers during my tenure lies squarely on their shoulders, and for their support, dedication and guidance, I cannot be more grateful. In particular, my Battery Sergeant Major, Warrant Officer Jason Bourke, has worked tirelessly and with dedication for the soldiers of the Battery. His forethought and frank opinions are often the sole reasons for our success. We wouldn’t be were we are without you, Jason. I am forever grateful - thank you.

I wish you all a Merry Christmas, a Happy New Year, and a fulfilling holiday season with your families and friends. We pray for a speedy return for the only Rammer currently on operations, Captain Jackson Stanhope. I look forward to hearing what the Battery and its Association are doing well into the future, albeit from afar.
Major James Casey
Battery Commander

August 2016 - From the Battery Commander at Townsville:
Fellow Rammers, it was a pleasure to join many of you for the Association’s reunion at The Entrance over the Anzac Day week. The Battery Sergeant Major and I are most grateful for the opportunity, and the team that joined us thoroughly enjoyed the time spent amongst you all. I even think Bozo managed to convince the BSM to join the Association’s reunion in Malaysia! What a magnificent linking of the past and present; to have six modern-day Rammers accepted so readily into the fold of the Association. I am forever grateful for the Association’s support, and I continue to sing your praise to the Battery – my hope is to have at least 25% of the Battery as members of the Association before I hand over to my successor on St Barbara’s Day in December. We noticed the absence of any representation from the post-1980s crowd at the reunion. While most of those who served in the 1980s and 90s are all probably still working (in their mid-late 50s), I agree with many of you that it’s important we make sure we capture this crowd before all our Vietnam and Malaysia veterans are too fragile to continue travelling across the country (and the world) every year or two. I will be looking out for these Olds and Bolds to put them in touch with the Association and make sure that he reunions don’t become a thing of the past.

Since I last wrote, the Regiment’s manning and resources have made training difficult, but not impossible. Exercise CHAU PHA (May) saw a different approach to our training with the Commanding Officer, Lieutenant Colonel Alwyn Payne (a former Rammer) putting the observer group through its paces with a week-long series of planning activities: six hours to plan, six hours to execute the task, six hours to review and reconstitute, then on to the next task. The tasks varied from battalion-level manoeuvre planning to small team tasks for Forward Observers. The activity was very worthwhile – I learned the value of incorporating senior soldiers into the planning process and underestimated the value of junior non-commissioned officers’ ability to conduct high-level planning – usually an “officer’s-only sport”. The next week was a trying week at that, seeing the Regiment undertake a number of tasks that, in all honestly, it was not ready for. Failure is a great learning tool, and we had it in spades at times, but I remain impressed by the flexibility of the troops and their leaders. In particular, the gun-line had only two guns, with a number of soldiers from Combat Service Support Battery (CSS Bty – transport, workshops, Q store) helping to man the detachments, which was no small feat. The guns were commanded by junior detachment commanders (lance bombardiers on their first or second time in command), and were being asked to do things we’d never done before. In one activity, the detachments ‘leap-frogged’ each other south to north up the FSB Joan-FSB Myrtle road. The detachments came into action, fired a mission, and then came out of action and advanced past the other detachment. The detachment commander chose his next platform within 200-300 metres of the other gun, and came into action to fire the next mission. It was difficult work, and required a lot of manhandling – which is very difficult with a 4 tonne gun, let alone an inexperienced detachment. I am very proud of the Battery’s achievements in the face of such adversity.

The Battery also took part in the gun race held to celebrate the Regiment’s birthday in May. Despite the race against 109 Bty being close, the Rammers split the race wide open in the final stages to complete the course first by almost 30 seconds, only to lose due to a technicality. It was a heartbreaking result and as BC 109 Bty put it, ‘a very shallow victory indeed’. Continuing with Regimental competitions, the Rammers have come second in the swimming carnival (March) and just last week came a very close second to 106 Bty in the cross-country – an influx of new teenage soldiers fresh from the School aided 106 Bty greatly, despite a strong showing from the Rammers that had all onlookers convinced that we had it ‘in the bag’! We look forward to our next opportunity to seal a well-earned victory in the coming months and eventually return the Champion Battery trophy to the Battery Headquarters.

Presently the Battery is preparing itself for the coming twelve months of ‘readying’. As you may know, between the Army’s three full-time combat brigades there is a rotation every 12 months between ‘readying’ for deployment, ‘ready’ to deploy, and in ‘reset’ after the two-year work up. Also, one of the infantry battalions is designated as the ‘Ready Battle Group’, augmented with armour, artillery, engineer and support attachments. The Ready Battle Group (RBG) is the Army’s short-notice, highly deployable strategic capability, able to be recalled, constituted and deployed in hours; preparing to become part of the RBG requires significant training, as there will be no time for advanced training once the callout is made. This responsibility will fall to our supported unit, the 1st Battalion the Royal Australian Regiment, and so the Rammers will form part of the 1 RAR’s RBG. The coming year will be very busy for the Rammers, including a surprise callout or two that will incorporate the full callout and deployment of the majority of the Battalion group into a training scenario.

The coming months will see the Battery conduct Exercise NADZAB (High Range) in August, the Commanding Officer’s Challenge in September, and the Brigade live fire exercise in October. The Battery will also contribute to the RAA Command Post Exercise run annually at the School of Artillery at Puckapunyal in November, which will include the Divisional Artillery Headquarters for the first time in recent memory.

Currently the Battery has our Command Post Sergeant, SGT Rowan Temple, on deployment to the Sinai, and one of our Forward Observers, Captain Jackson Stanhope, deployed to Iraq. We pray for their safety and a safe, speedy return.

As always, my thanks go to the Committee and the Association for your continued support of the Battery.
Ubique, Major James Casey - Battery Commander