For soldiers, explaining their role to their biggest supporters – their close friends and family – can be difficult.

The Combined Arms Training Centre (CATC) helped them out with that by hosting a firepower demonstration at the Puckapunyal Military Area on August 16 and 17. 

About 800 residents of Puckapunyal and invited guests watched soldiers from the School of Artillery firing M777 howitzers, and soldiers from the School of Armour employing the weapons systems of M113 armoured personnel carriers, Australian light armoured vehicles (ASLAVs) and M1A1 Abrams main battle tanks.

Colonel Patrick Davison, Commandant of the CATC and the Senior Australian Defence Force Officer of Puckapunyal, said the activity strengthened ties to the local community.

“We headed out to the range to show the community and our families not only what keeps us busy as work and why we love our jobs, but to provide a valuable demonstration of what we do,” Colonel Davison said.

“We can try to describe it, but nothing beats seeing, hearing and feeling the effects of a weapon on target for yourself.” 

Two friends from Melbourne who made the hour-long trip north found the experience cemented their interest in joining Army.

Florentina Ahmeti, 18, said she hadn’t been sure what to expect but enjoyed it.

“I think the Army is where I want to work but I’ll do the gap-year program and get a feel for it first,” she said.

Ashleigh Benson, 17, has already applied for the program, which allows young people to take a year after school to explore different roles in Army.

“It has solidified that I really want to join and do a combat role,” Ashleigh said.

“Today has shown me what I can do. I really want to learn new things, meet new people and I’m prepared to fight for my country, if needed.”

Colonel Davison said CATC was well-placed to conduct demonstrations to inform the community on Army’s training. 

“Army has been training our tank, cavalry and artillery soldiers at Puckapunyal for many decades and we have excellent facilities here to prepare our soldiers for the challenges of warfighting in a combined arms team,” Colonel Davison said.

“But we acknowledge that this training can create noise and disruption to our neighbours.

“At Puckapunyal, we have neighbours in Seymour and surrounding communities, and also the families that live on base.

“Activities such as this go a long way in helping the people around us understand what we do and why we do it.”

The biggest hit of the day for audience members of all ages, including James Foley, 12, was the tanks.

“I’m the most interested in tanks,” James said.

“The best part was seeing and hearing the tank firing – I wasn’t expecting it the first time.”

The firepower demonstration was held after Exercise Chong Ju was postponed until 2023.

Three-year-old Maddie in high spirits after the firepower demonstration.