Communication training and soldiering skills were the focus for 144th Signal Squadron’s Exercise Cobra Run at the Murray Bridge Training Area.

The aim of the weekend was for reservists in the South Australian unit to increase their field experience as they occupied a forward operating base on the northern edge of the range.

Corporal Darryl Reid, a reservist with the unit for 27 years, attended the weekend while taking time off from his regular duties as a bus driver in Adelaide.

“Exercises like this are very good, sometimes they are very tiring, but it is a little different to what we do during the week,” Corporal Reid said.

“As a reservist, this is another trade up our sleeve that we can practise and perfect.

“For the regular Army units this trade is their bread and butter and they do it all the time. For us it’s a secondary role, other than our civilian jobs, so we need to rehearse and get it down pat.”

Members took advantage of the equipment they had available to learn new skills in a field environment.

“For people who have just marched out of Kapooka this is an opportunity for them to experience what’s next,” Corporal Manser said.

Cpl Phil Manser helped to organise the exercise. Watching his efforts culminate at Murray Bridge, he reflected on the importance of field training for the unit.

“If unit members get the opportunity to wear issued kit like body armour, to put the night-vision stands on their helmets, to wear and use the equipment, then it’s experience money can’t buy,” Corporal Manser said.

“We are aiming to backfill regular Army positions. We can’t do that if we are not using the same equipment, so exercises like this are a great opportunity to do that.”

Many of the activities the unit conducted were trade-specific, such as establishing communications between detachments and setting up phone connections. The weekend also included all-corps skills such as conducting clearing patrols, maintaining weapons and searching for suspected threats.

144th Signal Squadron has started upgrading the equipment it uses within the unit. Recently new G-Wagon vehicles have begun to augment the older Land Rovers.

The transition to digital radio equipment also means there is training required for new and experienced hands who want to keep their skills relevant.

“For people who have just marched out of Kapooka this is an opportunity for them to experience what’s next,” Corporal Manser said.

“For people who are already in the unit, it’s a terrific time for them to get hands on with the new equipment. This all needs to be second nature for us.

“We are signals, so people look to us to be the subject-matter experts on this equipment.”