Force Protection Element 3 commences work in Kandahar
23 February 2015
Having taken over from Force Protection Element-2 (FPE-2) earlier this year, soldiers from Townsville’s 1st Battalion, The Royal Australian Regiment (1RAR) and 3rd Combat Service Support Battalion (3CSSB) have now bonded as FPE-3 conducting force protection duties in support of Operation HIGHROAD in both Qargha and Kandahar, Afghanistan.
Now part of Joint Task Force 636, a platoon-size team of soldiers in Kandahar perform Guardian Angel (GA) and transport duties for Coalition members of the Afghan National Army (ANA) 205th Corps Coalition Advisory Team (205 CAT).
Platoon Commander, Lieutenant (LT) Ryan Muller said his team was well prepared to step into the role.
“We conducted 10 weeks of force preparation training leading up to the deployment and that was a good lead-up package which included everything from legal briefs, medical training, weapon training and integration work with the advisors we’ll be protecting,” LT Muller said.
“I think we’ll do well.
“We’ve got a very intelligent group of soldiers that work here and I’ve got absolute faith that they’ll do their job correctly and at their highest capacity.”
GA duties require a soldier to provide individual security to advisors which ensures they can remain focussed on their role of advising while out on site at Camp Hero where the 205th Corps of the ANA is based.
“One of the challenges for us is providing the control measures for our soldiers who are really conducting an individual task within a platoon environment versus how we would conventionally operate with section tasks within the platoon environment,” LT Muller said.
“I think the mindset of every soldier is a positive one and they know that we’re here for the benefit of the NATO-led Resolute Support Mission and also Afghan National Army,
One of the GAs, Private (PTE) Liam Kwasha, said it’s different to what he expected but he’s so far enjoying the opportunity.
“My role is basically to protect my advisor when he is on site advising the ANA,” he said.
“My duties involve checking the work area initially, standing watch and calling in any situations.
“One of the challenges is the cold, it’s a bit different to Townsville.
“Also, when working with the Afghans the language barrier is a challenge.
“Most of them speak scattered English but that can vary so it can be difficult.”
The team will get see both sides of Afghanistan’s weather having deployed in the height of winter and staying for the hotter months later in the year, however LT Muller is confident in his team’s preparation for the six month deployment.
“We’ve had a good and long build up and training process prior to deploying here, including being trained up on the latest military equipment that we’ve deployed with,” he said.
“That equipment provides us a huge level of security and safety whilst conducting our operations, which is the most important thing.”
The transport function for the FPE is conducted by the Protected Mobility Vehicle (PMV) section which is made up of eight Bushmaster crews (16 pers) of Royal Australian Corps of Transport (RACT) soldiers.
The PMV section supports the protected movement of advisors and their GAs when on daily tasks outside the main Coalition bases and the RACT soldiers are amongst the first from their Corps to conduct this kind of mission since the transition of the PMV from Armoured Corps to RACT.