News: Australian Tankers qualify with 1st Tanks
Story by Cpl. Sarah Dietz
TWENTYNINE PALMS, Calif. - A tank crew from the Australian Army’s 1st Armored Regiment is qualifying at the Combat Center’s Range 500 this week and next with Marines with Company A, 1st Tank Battalion.
The soldiers will be conducting Tank Tables 1 through 6 over the course of two weeks.
“We bring a crew over every year,” said Australian Army Capt. Michael Hall, second in command of A Squadron, 1st Armored Regiment. “While the rest of our unit is training in crew gunnery skills, we send a crew over here to benchmark ourselves against 1st Tank Battalion in the Marine Corps, because we don’t have any other tank regiments in Australia to compare to."
“Where we trained in Australia, it’s all vegetated. We can come out here to a new environment, the desert, to learn new skills and acquire tank gunnery techniques in a different terrain,” Hall added.
The Australian tankers came to the Combat Center Feb. 7. Before going to Range 500 to qualify on the tank, the crew ran through multiple drills to familiarize themselves with some of the techniques Marines with 1st Tanks utilize, such as tank evacuation and casualty evacuation.
“It’s been a good experience. This is my first time here,” Hall said. “We’ve already learned a lot. We use all the same doctrine as the Marine Corps but things are set up differently, like ranges and resources.”
The new environment has posed different obstacles and learning opportunities for the Australian tankers. They were given a new perspective on techniques and tactics used by the Marine Corps.
“There’s been some challenges in the way they do things differently, but it’s nothing that we can’t adapt to. The basics and the concept are exactly the same,” said Australian Army Sgt. Dean Mosedale, tank commander, 1st Armored Regiment. “The gunnery is better out here. They have a lot more lead-up tables before the actual qualification table, where as, in Australia, we tend to not have as much time prior to our qualification. It’s been a privilege to come out here. Being a tanker is definitely a passion.”
Along with the training, the Australian soldiers and the Marines have begun to build relationships.
“This is the first time I’ve seen them out here in the field with us,” said Cpl. Jose Hernandez, gunner, Company A, 1st Tanks. “We train with them and that’s pretty tight. The U.S. and Australia combine forces during war, that’s pretty cool.”
“They’re pretty lively,” said Sgt. Jesse Cowgill, gunner, Headquarters and Services Co., 1st Tanks. “When it comes down to it, they are willing to do what’s needed for training. They’ve done good and are pretty professional.”
The two militaries continuously seek to improve the relationship between the two nations by sharing knowledge, experiences and techniques developed by the individual forces.
“We are here to bench mark our skills against someone who has been using the platform for a long time and also to share a bit of knowledge on techniques and procedures,” Hall said.
Another international exchange will take place later in the year, where a company from 1st Tanks will be given the opportunity to travel to Australia for a similar experience.
“We sort of trade, so you guys can come over and learn how we operate in the bush land,” Hall said.