Townsville’s 4th Regiment, Royal Australian Artillery, recently pushed its junior leaders to the limit on Exercise Turbulent Dawn.

The exercise was designed to test the soldier’s mental fortitude, resilience and physical stamina with the aim of enhancing cohesion within the regiment and to build a strong leadership group for the future. 

Taking on the challenge, Bombardier Michael Topliss acknowledged the importance of developing as a leader and exemplar.

“Resilience and good leadership are essential qualities as a bombardier. All the diggers look up to you and it’s up to you to set the standard for them, help push them further and reach their capabilities,” Bombardier Topliss.

A series of activities including an obstacle course, combat casualty scenarios, pack marches, bayonet assault course and gruelling section attacks challenged the junior leaders to push past their mental and physical barriers.  

Bombardier Topliss praised his section for their mateship and ability to maintain determination through the tougher challenges. 

“Our section had really high morale throughout the course, and plenty of banter, which helped to keep everyone happy and made it easier to keep moving through the tasks,” he said.

“When times are starting to get tough, it’s our mates that we turn to and help us to push through.

“Sometimes it’s easy to give up when you’re by yourself, but when you’re in a group, you don’t want to be that guy that quits. You want to keep going.” 

New to the junior leadership group, Lance Bombardier Jordan Vardanega stepped up to the challenge, developing his skills and drawing on the camaraderie within his section to push through.

“It was good to see the section coming together as a group, encouraging each other through some of those more difficult obstacles while fatigued,” he said.

“It was a huge challenge, but we pulled through it as a team.

“As a junior leader, you’re expected to lead small teams and it’s important for them to be able to look up to you and know you’re not going to crumble when things start getting a bit tough.

“It’s also important to know in yourself that you have the mental and physical resilience to get through.” 

More photos can be viewed on the Defence image gallery.