ROCKHAMPTON (Queensland) • Before the main force of a battalion of soldiers can mount a swift beach assault, the beach first needs to be prepared so that fast craft can land and unload troops without a hitch.
That task of setting the stage falls on the beach and shore parties, which are the first wave of troops to arrive. They set up lane markers, marshal the vessels in, and are on standby to evacuate any casualties.
"The work we do is critical because we're doing movement of troops inland. We need to set this up to ensure they move swiftly and safely, as well as to link up with the rest of the battalion," said Captain (NS) Brandon Chee, 38, from the Republic of Singapore Navy (RSN), who leads the beach party.
He was speaking to reporters during a rehearsal at the Shoalwater Bay Training Area in Rockhampton yesterday. The actual amphibious assault - the highlight of Exercise Trident - will take place tomorrow.
Exercise Trident, being held from Oct 31 to Nov 14, is the third phase of Exercise Wallaby and the signature bilateral exercise between the Singapore Armed Forces and the Australian Defence Force.
For the exercise, the beach party will set up five lanes - each 10m wide - taking about 10 minutes.
Marshals are then deployed from the beach party, using flags to direct the fast craft into the correct lanes. Other than the battalion of troops, more than 10 vehicles are expected to land. The shore party then ensures the troops and vehicles move quickly farther inland.
Captain (NS) Kieran Yeo, 28, who is officer commanding of the shore party, said: "If a vehicle gets bogged down on the beach, we have recovery vehicles and a maintenance section of soldiers that can perform emergency repairs."
Other than the maintenance and marshalling teams, medics will also be on standby to treat any soldiers injured during the landing.
The two teams are made up of operationally ready national servicemen and are under the command of the RSN's Command Task Group for the exercise.
Lieutenant-Colonel (LTC) Kenny Chen, 45, who heads the task group, said the RSN is playing a supporting role to the army as well as the air force in the conventional ship-to-shore operation.
For Exercise Trident, the RSN is deploying Endurance-class landing ship tank RSS Resolution and 10 fast crafts, which can be used to move vehicles and troops to shore.
On the value of the Shoalwater Bay Training Area, LTC Chen said: "While we do most of our ship-to-shore training in our local waters in Singapore, it's not ideal as we don't have a big beachfront.
"But here, it's a huge sea space and beachfront, and we can really do what we need to."