Shephard takes to the ‘battlefield’

(Proof that you can look Australian)

Shephard goes to great lengths to get the story, even onto the ‘battlefield’.

Our work may mean travelling over land and water to attend a trade show, or it may require something even more drastic, including getting down and dirty. That was the case this past week as @combatpaparazzi travelled Down Under to attend Exercise Talisman Sabre 2015, a large-scale bilateral exercise between Australia and the US.

After hosing myself down after nearly six days in the dusty terrain of the Shoalwater Bay Training Area (SWBTA) without a shower, I sat down to pen this missive.

It’s one thing to get all the trade spin from a company at a defence show, but sometimes you have to talk to the people on the frontline that are using their kit. Soldiers’, sailors’ or airmen’s impressions can be quite different to the smooth-talking salesman, and they’re generally very worthy of consideration.

We might dispel old soldier’s tales such as one sergeant’s insistence that ration pack ingredients include a stomach-shrinking agent so you won’t eat so much. Then again, I still haven’t confirmed whether the rumour that an Australian fixed-wing micro-UAV really was attacked in mid-air by a hawk, taken to the bird’s nest and a live feed was received of it being pecked to death!

However, the experience soldiers are having of the Australian Army’s TORC2H battle management system (BMS) from Elbit Systems was informative.

The portable version, which weighed up to 14kg, was found to be too cumbersome, so soldiers have simply ditched it for its intended digitisation role. Instead planners have had to go back to the drawing board to produce something more user-friendly.


Here be dragons.

However, a great number of vehicles have now been fitted with BMS terminals, and the digital system is increasingly being utilised at the battalion level as a useful tool.

Furthermore, one commanding officer of a combat signals regiment admitted the Australian Army had simply taken the wrong approach initially. Instead of taking the bottom-up approach that it did, the BMS should have been implemented at units from top to bottom to make its introduction far more effective.

Australia has already invested a lot of dollars in its BMS, and the next issue of Digital Battlespace will be carrying some revelations about this and other network-centric equipment in both Australia and New Zealand.

In the meantime, it was nice to finally pack up my hoochie (pictured above) and get back to civilisation from the SWBTA. Now I have lots of laundry to take care of…

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