Flexible Training Initiative Empowers Army Reservists

Following a triumphant trial period last year, the 9th Brigade’s Reserve Accelerated Training Scheme (RATS) is set to commence again in 2024. This pioneering endeavour offers part-time soldiers a flexible pathway to engage in full-time contracts spanning 3 to 12 months, akin to a ‘Gap Year’ experience.

In 2023, the 10th/27th Battalion, Royal South Australia Regiment (10/27RSAR), administered the program with resounding success, affording 37 soldiers the opportunity to immerse themselves in the dynamics of a full-time platoon within a combat brigade.

Private Lachlan McCulloch embarked on his full-time contract through RATS, commencing as a recruit. Following his induction at Kapooka in January 2023, he diligently pursued his initial employment training, becoming fully proficient just in time to join the platoon’s deployment to Indonesia for Exercise Super Garuda Shield in August 2023.

Reflecting on his experience, Private McCulloch remarked, “The RATS program has provided me with unparalleled exposure. The calibre of training and camaraderie within the community has been exceptional. It has ignited in me a desire to turn what I once viewed as merely a job into a career.”

RATS participants were afforded the opportunity to expedite their individual training, acquiring a plethora of corps qualifications, combat behaviour training, promotion courses, and specialized certifications such as protected mobility vehicle driving and direct fire support weaponry operation.

The augmented training and heightened readiness of the platoon empowered its soldiers to actively contribute to advanced collective training sessions and security cooperation endeavours, including participation in Exercise Super Garuda Shield 23 and the combined-arms platoon live-fire exercise on Exercise Rhino Run 23. Furthermore, they served as a high-readiness force element for domestic response contingencies.

Lieutenant Colonel Aaron Jackson, Commanding Officer of 10/27RSAR, hailed the initiative for its capacity to afford part-time soldiers the flexibility to complete training under full-time contracts, thus expediting capability delivery. “The Reserve Accelerated Training Scheme presents a remarkable opportunity for Australians keen on serving their community to sample the rewarding careers available in the ADF,” remarked Lieutenant Colonel Jackson. “Participants not only acquire invaluable skills in leadership and teamwork but also undergo significant professional development. Moreover, this initiative underscores the battalion’s prowess and its effective utilization in exercises and operations.”

A noteworthy outcome of the 2023 RATS program is that one in five participants are transitioning to Service Category 7 full-time service. However, many, including Private McCulloch, intend to revert to Service Category 5 part-time service following the conclusion of their contract.

Lieutenant Colonel Jackson expressed optimism for another fruitful year of the program in 2024, anticipating continued success and positive outcomes for both participants and the Australian Defence Force as a whole.


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