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Army training now includes anti-drone operations

The remains of a drone target shot down during Exercise Iron Warrior 23 at Puckapunyal on November 28, 2023.

For the first time, Australian Army training now includes counter-drone tactics and engagement.

A drone target shoot was included on Exercise Iron Warrior, the culminating live-fire exercise on the Army’s mechanised regimental officers’ course. The serial was added in response to increased drone use in the modern battle space, according to School of Armour Tactics Wing instructor Warrant Officer Class Two Robert Kelly.

“We want to keep the training as current as possible, and if you look at the conflicts in Ukraine and overseas, drones are heavily influencing the battle space,” he said.

During the nine-week course, infantry and engineer officers are taught vehicle navigation, manoeuvre tactics and mounted firing on the M113AS4 Armoured Personnel Carrier (APC).

Mechanised Tactics instructor Corporal Ross Pickard said the biggest challenge for students on course was the speed at which everything was done.

“It’s a pretty big change of pace. Instead of being able to take a couple of minutes to make a decision, you’ve got maybe five to 10 seconds,” he said.

“Their planning cycle to make a quick decision, whether to commit to something or withdraw, is compressed. It draws from a lot of knowledge and skills they already have, but they have to be able to do it quicker.”

Exercise Iron Warrior also put participants through their paces in an ambush, a convoy escort and combat team assault, working alongside Australian light armoured vehicles (ASLAVs) and M1A1 Abrams. For junior officers the course is the final hurdle before being posted to their first unit as a platoon or troop commander.

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