The Australian and Singapore armies have strengthened ties through training during Exercise Matilda, a two-week biennial activity at Gallipoli Barracks from November 7-22.

About 40 soldiers from the Singapore Army trained with their Australian counterparts from 8th/9th Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment (8/9RAR), focusing on key military practices, including urban operations and reconnaissance.

Officer Commanding Bravo Company 8/9RAR Major David Bowden said the integration of troops at the tactical and headquarters level was an important and successful part of the exercise.

“We practised both urban and field-craft drills together for a couple of days, integrating some of our soldiers into their reconnaissance teams and employing some of their assets in support of our company-level operations,” Major Bowden said.

“At the headquarters (HQ) level, we also saw a combined Singaporean and Australian HQ overseeing the exercise.

“Both Singapore and Australia share some common training and standard operating procedures, which enabled us to hit the ground running. After a few days we were working quite well together.”

Corporal Nathan Cramer was one of six 8/9RAR soldiers embedded with patrols from the Singaporean RISTA (Recon, Intelligence, Surveillance and Target Acquisition) contingent.

“The Singaporeans had their whole RISTA command team integrated into Bravo Company HQ, so they were planning the missions and delivering the orders, and my personnel and I were attached individually or as a pair and we would act as an extra man on patrols,” Corporal Cramer said.

“They were comfortable asking us for our opinion or advice on how we operate and we went with our way or their way and just got to show each other some strengths.”

“Troops gained valuable knowledge from one another, which helped build our foundation warfighting skills and strengthen the bond between our two nations.”

The Singaporeans brought their unmanned ground vehicles, which were used as a reconnaissance tool during urban training.

“They were using them to move forward and find out what’s inside some of the rooms they were clearing,” Major Bowden said.

“It was good to have their capabilities, which we don’t usually have in the infantry battalion, supporting us.”

Troops then integrated Australian and Singaporean surveillance and reconnaissance equipment and tactics in full urban assault missions.

“We gave them a couple of objectives and targets to look at and together developed an intelligence update for a period of 48 hours before we executed a strike operation,” Major Bowden said.

The exercise was also about building strong relationships through cultural exchanges, friendly sporting competitions and commemorating Remembrance Day together.

Brigadier Andrew Hocking, Commander 7th Brigade, said the exercise enhanced their ability to work together in the future.

“Exercise Matilda is an important activity as we continue to build the mutual respect, friendship and cooperation with our Singaporean counterparts,” Brigadier Hocking said.

“Troops gained valuable knowledge from one another, which helped build our foundation warfighting skills and strengthen the bond between our two nations.”