A Republic of Fiji Military Forces lieutenant has become one of just a handful of officers to graduate as a combat engineer troop leader after passing a gruelling Australian Army training course.

Lieutenant Viliame Tagivetaua has been training at the Puckapunyal Army Base north of Melbourne since January 2021.

“It’s been good training. I’ve learnt a lot,” Lieutenant Tagivetaua said.

“My favourite part has been the demolitions. All engineers love demolitions.”

The 47-year-old father of four has been in the Republic of Fiji Military Forces for 27 years. He joined as a sapper and has risen through the ranks.

He is one of about 30 combat engineers graduating this year from the Australian Army’s Regimental Officers Basic Course, with one of the final tests being Exercise Gauntlet Strike. 

Tanks, armoured vehicles, infantry, artillery and combat engineers worked together to defeat a simulated enemy force.

Lieutenant Tagivetaua said he enjoyed working with the Australian Army’s 62-tonne M1A1 Abrams tanks.

“It’s been good to study in the classroom about tanks and now to be working with tanks in the field,” Lieutenant Tagivetaua said.

He will return to Fiji as the Alpha Troop Commander in 1 Rural Development Squadron, based in the Northern Division.

“I’ll pass onto others some of the procedures and doctrine I’ve learnt while training in Australia,” Lieutenant Tagivetaua said.