Artillery Battery Embraces New Role in Coastal Operations

PhotoSoldiers from 8th/12th Regiment, Royal Australian Artillery, conduct intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance operations via Zodiac as part of Operation Resolute in the Kimberley Marine Park, WA. Story by Captain Annie Richardson. Photo by Corporal Gregory Scott.

In a departure from its traditional role rooted in conventional gunnery, the 101st Battery of the 8th/12th Regiment, Royal Australian Artillery, has embraced a pioneering mission in the littoral space.

Established in 1916 as the 101st Howitzer Battery, originating from the 1st Field Artillery Brigade at Gallipoli, the unit underwent disbandment after the war, only to be reconstituted in the 1920s and again in 1957.

The 2023 Defence Strategic Review (DSR) advocated for a strategic pivot towards a light-littoral brigade, prompting the 101st Battery to specialize in intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) operations within archipelagos and coastal regions.

Major Jack Bagwill, the battery commander, expressed confidence in their ability to tackle ISR challenges in coastal territories. “Our team comprises highly trained joint-fires observers and artillery-command-systems operators, individuals well-versed in intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance methodologies, and the coordination of joint operations,” Major Bagwill remarked.

He added, “Their proficiency in observation and target acquisition seamlessly translates into the littoral domain, where our focus shifts from hills to managing tides, beaches, and rugged coastal terrains.”

Despite encountering challenges during the transition, members of the 101st Battery enthusiastically embraced the opportunity. They dedicated themselves to mastering small watercraft operations and refining their intelligence photography skills to support Operation Resolute, the ADF’s mission to safeguard the nation’s borders and maritime interests.

“Embracing the evolving battlespace, the 101st Battery has pioneered advancements in littoral operations,” Major Bagwill noted. “We conduct ISR operations around the clock, providing crucial intelligence to the Australian Border Force to address potential illicit activities in the region.”

As the Army prepares for the integration of long-range fires following the DSR, the 8th/12th Regiment is also adapting to its new role as the Army’s light-littoral combat brigade. Major Bagwill highlighted their unique contribution, stating, “We have established a dedicated brigade reconnaissance element, marking a significant step forward in our capabilities.”

In essence, the transformation of the 101st Battery underscores the Army’s commitment to innovation and adaptation in response to evolving security challenges in coastal environments.

Photo: Soldiers from 8th/12th Regiment, Royal Australian Artillery, prepare to conduct Zodiac patrols at night as part of Operation Resolute. Photo by Corporal Gregory Scott.



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