Sapper sections from the 1st Combat Engineer Regiment have pushed their skills and endurance to the limit to vie for the coveted position of the regiment’s champion section.

Exercise Goanna is an annual four-day challenge where soldiers prove their professionalism and build the ‘esprit de corps’ of the regiment as they strive to win the trophy.

Lance Corporal Matthew Maika and seven of his fellow sappers from Regimental Engineer Reconnaissance Section won the event after completing 26 stands.

“The combination of activities and practical scenarios made for a physically and mentally demanding competition,” Lance Corporal Maika said.

“I couldn’t be happier with the way the team performed.”

The competition was held at Robertson Barracks, NT, from July 27-30 with all regimental sections, including a section formed of lieutenants, testing their tenacity across stands covering general soldier skills, specific-engineer skills, physical fitness, marksmanship and leadership. 

To add to the challenge, each section covered almost 75km on foot. 

“It was a hot and tiring competition with lots of varying stands,” Lance Corporal Maika said. 

“Each member had strengths they were able to contribute that enhanced the performance of the section as a whole. 

“Leading the recon section as they rose to the occasion has definitely been a highlight of the year for me. To come away with the win is a fantastic feeling.”

Foundation-engineer skills were also assessed, including engineer search, sandbag-wall construction, reserve demolitions, obstacle breaching and chemical biological radiological nuclear basic skills. 

Night-navigation serial, tyre changing, all-arms call for fire, and the Commanding Officer’s fitness challenge were also tested as part of soldier-foundation skills. 

This competition is a great example of the mission-focused mindset the regiment has demonstrated during recent operations and training.

The gruelling competition culminated with the crossing of the military obstacle course.

Sapper Aydan Gilsenan won the Individual Engineer Award, Sapper Luke Catterall was awarded as Best in All-Corps Soldier Skills and Sapper Sam Keltie was named 1st Combat Engineer Regiment’s fittest soldier.

Commanding Officer 1st Combat Engineer Regiment Lieutenant Colonel Scott Jamieson said he was impressed with the efforts of everyone who participated in the competition.

“Exercise Goanna challenge was designed to test technical and tactical competence of our soldiers and junior leaders,” Lieutenant Colonel Jamieson said.

“It was also designed to be arduous – to really test the mettle of our people, to physically exhaust the teams and test their leadership under real pressure.

“Leading people is challenging at the best of times. When physically and mentally tired, it really tests our junior leaders and the quality of our soldiers and small teams.” 

The victors were celebrated during the awards ceremony held at the Reynolds Centre where Lieutenant Colonel Jamieson addressed the regiment.

“This competition is a great example of the mission-focused mindset the regiment has demonstrated during recent operations and training,” Lieutenant Colonel Jamieson said.