Albury-Wodonga is a long way from the battlefields of Ukraine, but local Australian Army soldiers are doing their bit to help the Government of Ukraine repel the Russian invasion of its country.
The Albury-Wodonga region is home to the Australian Logistics Training Centre (ALTC), which has played a key role in developing a training package to accompany the 20 Bushmaster protected mobility vehicles (PMVs), 14 of which have been equipped with protected weapons systems, being gifted to the Ukraine military.
Major L, who oversees specialist platform training at the Australian Army School of Electrical and Mechanical Engineering, which is part of the ALTC, said every effort could help Ukraine.
“We might think we’re a long way from Ukraine, but providing training packages to go with the Bushmasters is our bit to help,” Major L said.
It was his task to fast-track a maintenance and familiarisation guide to be used by the Ukrainian military for the vehicles.
“We basically had to strip back our existing maintenance guides so the Ukrainian operators would be able to get the Bushmasters operational within a few hours after they arrive,” Major L said.
“The Bushmasters are simple and effective, but they are nuanced, and dealing with this requires specialised knowledge.”
The Bushmasters were repainted and had their armour upgraded before they were sent to Ukraine by Royal Australian Air Force C-17A aircraft .
It is part of a wider package of military assistance the Australian Government is providing to Kyiv.
Major L’s team of specialists scripted and performed the maintenance procedures, capturing them on video with the help of ALTC’s multimedia technicians. It was then translated into Ukrainian.
“This is such a great demonstration of the Army’s capabilities. Our training system is designed to be flexible in such a way that we can support our partners when we need to,” Major L said.
The Australian-built Bushmasters enable soldiers to move safely to a battle area before individuals dismount for combat.
The Bushmaster is well-suited for conditions in Ukraine, as it provides protection against mines and improvised explosive devices, as well as shrapnel from artillery and small-arms fire.
It can deploy up to 10 battle-ready troops and is blast-resistant. But the vehicle, which is more than seven metres long and weighs 12,500 kilograms, does take some skill to drive.
Teaching these skills quickly was the job of Lieutenant-Colonel C, the Commanding Officer of the Australian Army School of Transport, based at Puckapunyal in Victoria.
“The Ukrainians are skilled and are now very experienced on the battlefield,” Lieutenant Colonel C said.
“We just needed to make sure they understand its operation, to use its value on the battlefield.”
The team compiled a multimedia package using videos, technical guides and even place mats to be placed in front of operators when they are using the Bushmaster PMV.
It was a big job that had to be done within a short period of time.
“The people working for me are just so capable. They were given a challenge and they threw themselves into it. It was extraordinary to see,” Lieutenant Colonel C said.
“It’s also another great example of how flexibility is at the core of Australian Army training techniques. We can adapt to different roles and missions so quickly.”
The expertise learnt during this operation will be used to enhance existing training procedures and techniques.
Before the Bushmasters left Australia, they were painted with a Ukrainian flag on either side, with the words 'United with Ukraine' stencilled in English and Ukrainian to acknowledge Australia’s support for the people of Ukraine.
“It’s devastating to see what is happening in Ukraine, and we are proud to help their armed forces,” Lieutenant Colonel C said.