Australian and Indonesian troops train in combat for Exercise Wirra Jaya in the Northern Territory

Battling heatwave conditions and pandemic precautions, around 300 Australian and Indonesian soldiers conduct their largest annual joint combat training at Top End Defense bases.

Exercise Wirra Jaya is an annual three-week training exercise between the two armies, which takes place in Australia or Indonesia.

This year, for the eighth iteration, approximately 200 members of the Indonesian military, or Tentara Nasional Indonesia Angkatan Darat, spent two weeks in the Bladin Village quarantine center, under contract with Defense, outside of Darwin to to participate.

“It’s very different from last year, where we did it in a virtual environment due to COVID-19,” said 5RAR Delta Company commander, Commander Gregory Sargeant.

“The training we have focused on is primarily motorized training with our Bushmaster Protected Mobility Vehicles (a four-wheel-drive armored vehicle) but also urban operations, looking at very basic levels of combat fire. “

Red tips on soldiers’ guns indicate that the guns are incapable of firing live ammunition.(ABC News: Che Chorley)

The training is designed to give units of the armed forces of both countries the practice of operating together, much like the larger training sessions held each year with visiting U.S. Marines.

Leaders from both armies have said building relationships between Australian and Indonesian personnel is a key goal.

” In the perspective of [the exercise] we had all the soldiers practicing their bahasa [Indonesian language] … At different levels of success. “

An Indonesian soldier in a steering wheel, while another nearby point and an Australian soldier in the background watch.
Vehicle simulation equipment is used for part of the exercise.(ABC News: Che Chorley)

Indonesian and Australian soldiers gave social sport credit for bonding beyond the language barrier.

“Last week we played football with the First Brigade team – and the Indonesian Army won 2-1,” said Indonesian Army contingent commander Lt. Col. Anggun Wuriyanto.

“[The Australian Army] are very kind and help us a lot, [like they would] for their own family. “

Indonesian soldiers, one wearing a camouflage bob, standing in a group.
This year’s exercise is the largest in the Top End to date, with approximately 350 soldiers participating.(ABC News: Che Chorley)

Exercise Wirra Jaya sees Indonesian personnel train with Australian Bushmaster vehicles, 15 of which, according to Defense Minister Peter Dutton, will be returned to the country to support peacekeeping operations.

Major Sargeant said the training will also include urban operations exercises, where defense personnel practice maneuvering and firing at mock villages or homes.

After the death of a young Australian soldier in a similar exercise in the Top End four years ago, the battalion has still not resumed the use of live ammunition for urban operations training, with whites or “blank tests” used in Exercise Wirra Jaya.

“It’s very important that we build a foundation level based on confidence before we move into serious training… we will not move into live training,” said Major Sargeant.

An Indonesian soldier in a soft hat and camouflage, arms crossed, looking stern.
Lieutenant-Colonel Wuriyanto heads the Indonesian contingent.(ABC News: Che Chorley)

The commander also said soldiers were subject to a “strict heat policy” due to Darwin’s build-up conditions and that personnel were not required to wear body armor or heavy helmets during the major. part of the exercise.

Exercise Wirra Jaya will conclude with a closing ceremony at Robertson Barracks in Darwin on November 3.

An Australian soldier in camouflage, seen from behind a row of Indonesian soldiers
Indonesians have joined their Australian counterparts after two weeks of quarantine.(ABC News: Che Chorley)


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Richard V. Johnson

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