Whilst the Exercise Pitch Black 18 air war raged overhead, the Forward Operating Base for the exercise was defended by No. 2 Security Forces Squadron.
Approximately 100 kilometres south of Darwin, Batchelor Airfield came under ‘enemy’ attack from Air Force and Army assets throughout the exercise.
Along with trained squadron members, military working dogs, specialised equipment and bushmaster protected mobility vehicles helped support operations at the austere airfield scenario as part of the exercise.
Squadron Leader Kevin Auld, Defensive Operations Commander No.2 Security Forces Squadron discussed the role security forces play in austere settings.
“We are providing security to both the airfield and the surrounding area to support air operations out of this airfield at Batchelor,” Squadron Leader Auld said.
No. 2 Security Forces Squadron has been in location since the commencement of the exercise.
“Setting up security commenced with a hand over – take over from our No.4 Squadron combat controllers,” Squadron Leader Auld said.
“We were then able to push out and establish our defences to hand over to the Contingency Response Squadron. Our role after that is to clear the area of operations then provide depth and security to that perimeter.”
Supporting the squadron in Batchelor is the US Air Force’s 736 Security Forces Squadron.
Technical Sergeant Robert Keefe, a Contingency Response Element Squad Leader from the US Air Force 736 Security Forces Squadron discussed what they were doing on the ground with their Australian counterparts.
“We’re in charge of strengthening perimeters, manning defensive fighting positions, quick reaction forces and screening the surface-to-air missile footprint,” Sergeant Keefe said.
Sergeant Keefe talked about working with Royal Australian Air Force counterparts in the Northern Territory.
“We do a good job of integration. We have a couple of Australians embedded in our squad,” Sergeant Keefe said.
“That means we can learn their standard operating procedures and at the same time they can learn ours.”
The benefits of being able to train with regional allies and learn from each other is a valuable opportunity in exercises like Pitch Black.
“In the event that we work together again down the road we should be able to pick up where we left off,” Sergeant Keefe said.
Security Forces Squadrons provide Air Force holistic security and defensive capabilities in exercises and operations. Surveillance systems and operators, battle management systems to understand and control the battle space, protected mobility vehicles and interaction with people to gather intelligence are some of the areas they operate in.
By LEUT Harley Slatter
For imagery and videos of Exercise Pitch Black 2018 go to the Defence galleries at https://images.defence.gov.au/ and http://video.defence.gov.au