Pil­bara Reg­i­ment a part

Pilbara News - - News - Ben Leahy

■ 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-

Pic­tures: ADF

Tiger armed re­con­nais­sance he­li­copters land at RAAF Base Lear­month af­ter con­duct­ing se­cu­rity oper­a­tions dur­ing Ex­er­cise North­ern Shield.

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