After supporting Operation Bushfire Assist and Operation COVID-19 Assist, 7th Combat Brigade (7 Bde) deployed more than 1000 troops to the Shoalwater Bay Training Area to hone their planning and warfighting skills on Exercise Diamond Catalyst. 

With intense warfighting exercises in the pouring rain and stringent battle staff training to plan each move, all 7 Bde members were put through their paces in simulated battles lasting most of October. 

Major Sam Thackray said these activities were not just to develop the brigade’s warfighting capability, but to enhance planning skills for any task the government required. 

“The headquarters staff conducted a deliberate planning activity to confirm its preparedness, ability to plan and contribute to whole-of-government efforts, including continued support to Operation COVID-19 Assist and the high-risk weather season,” Major Thackray said. 

“The planning was done using a scenario that required 7 Bde, as part of a multi-national force, to conduct offensive operations against a fictitious enemy.”

Major Thackray said those involved in the planning activity benefitted from participation of multiple parties outside 7 Bde, including input from overseas partners. 

“The staff worked collaboratively to deliver very good outcomes,” he said.

“Partnering with the team from the Combat Training Centre, led by US Army Lieutenant Colonel Andrew Rhodes, was very beneficial and welcome.

“They facilitated excellent learning to ensure we are better prepared in the future.”

Major Thackray said the military planning process was relatively agnostic and could be adapted to a broad range of scenarios.

“Though the activity was focused on combat operations the scenario is simply a vehicle for exercising commanders and staff in the planning process,” he said.

“7 Bde has conducted a number of planning activities that have led to more than 1700 personnel from across the brigade deploying to support domestic operations this year.”

By the end of the exercise, 7 Bde staff had been in the field for almost a month of solid planning activities, while the brigade’s soldiers had been out traversing the terrain to overcome their notional enemy. 

Despite the busy year 7 Bde has had, Major Thackray said he was pleased to see soldiers and officers back in the field honing their foundation warfighting skills again, highlighting their adaptability and perseverance. 

“Our junior leaders and soldiers have made a significant contribution this year to protect the nation through bushfires, COVID-19, and now finishing the year with Exercise Diamond Catalyst,” he said.

“Their preparedness and resiliency through these difficult times has been extremely impressive.”