Pilbara Regiment a part
■ Pilbara Regiment soldiers joined Special Forces troops and fighter pilots last week to defend the region from mock terrorist and military attacks.
Held around Exmouth, Exercise Northern Shield simulated the army, air force and navy’s response to an attack on North West WA infrastructure.
About 1000 Defence personnel took part alongside F-A-18 fighters, a P-3 Orion and transport aircraft.
WA’s senior Defence officer Commodore Peter Lockwood said the operation aimed to give Pilbara residents and resources companies confidence in the ADF’s operations.
“Defence has looked at our presence and activities in the North West a number of times ... and ascertained we need to raise our profile here a little bit,” he said.
“We needed to demonstrate our ability to plan and conduct an agile and short-notice ADF response including ... longrange force protection activity.”
The major exercise follows calls by some government and resources industry figures for the ADF to base a bigger force in the Pilbara to protect the multi-billion dollar resources industry.
Both the City of Karratha and the Town of Port Hedland have lobbied for future defence operations to be stationed within their local government areas.
Commodore Lockwood said while the ADF’s Posture Review strategic paper concluded the region could be protected without a bigger presence in the Pilbara, future expansion had not been ruled out.
He said the ADF was keeping tabs on the possibility that the State Government could build a marine servicing facility at Hedland’s Lumsden Point, because a similar facility at Henderson Point, south of Perth, had provided a major boost to the navy.
He said it had attracted hightech suppliers, such as BAE Systems and the Australian Submarine Corporation, and cut the navy’s repair and maintenance costs.
“If (Lumsden Point or a Karratha marine facility) does get up, then we would certainly be interested in utilising that facility,” he said.
“Primarily for patrol boats, but with such a long coastline in WA, it could easily be for emergency maintenance on ships or other support activity.”
Northern Shield’s exercise controller Colonel Brett Chaloner said last week’s operations demonstrated the ADF already had the ability to respond to threats in the re-
Tiger armed reconnaissance helicopters land at RAAF Base Learmonth after conducting security operations during Exercise Northern Shield.