Soldiers from 1st Combat Service Support Battalion (1CSSB) were scattered far and wide in support of the Northern Territory Government during Operation COVID-19 Assist.

The Darwin-based battalion provided support to NT police at control points along Queensland, South Australian and Western Australian boarders. 

Lance Corporal Jayden Osborne was a section commander deployed to the NT/SA border, 1750km down the Stuart Highway from Robertson Barracks.

“The main challenge was the short notice,” Lance Corporal Osborne said. 

“We had about 24 hours to load the stores and be on the road.”

Lance Corporal Osborne’s convoy consisted of two G-wagons, three 40M and one HX77 Rheinmetall MAN trucks, with two medium weight Haulmark trailers loaded with stores including water, rations, repair equipment, fuel, an ISO fridge container and a 16kVA generator. 

1 CSSB Commanding Officer Lieutenant Colonel Kane Wright said the short-notice deployment of the battalion during the pandemic highlighted Army’s ability to respond rapidly to assist the Australian community.

“I was continually impressed with our people and their ability to demonstrate our rapid response readiness,” Lieutenant Colonel Wright said.

“1 CSSB provided the first ‘boots on the ground’ in support of the NT, Federal Police, and the wider community.”

Once the border control points were established, 1CSSB force elements rotated through each on a fortnightly basis, assisting police by providing logistic, administrative and communications support. 

Driver specialist Lance Corporal Lachlin Asheton-Cooper said the long hours spent in the company of NT and Federal police provided a great opportunity to learn about other agencies.

“I loved the experience. I was able to gain an insight into how the police operate and their important role in our community,” Lance Corporal Asheton-Cooper said.