7 RAR mortars return to the fight
The current group of mortar personnel serving in Afghanistan are the first mortar element from the 7th Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment (7 RAR) to deploy to a war zone since Vietnam.
A section of nine soldiers provides a combat ready, offensive support capability for the 330 personnel of the 7 RAR Task Group and remain on constant standby to react to short notice tasks.
They are deployed to Tarin Kot, Uruzgan province, in support of 7 RAR TG’s mission to advise the 4th Brigade Afghan National Army through transition.
Mortar Section Commander, Corporal Nathan Smith, said his men have developed into a close-knit, professional unit after months of training, exercises and live fire practices.
“I was originally 5 RAR mortars and moved to 7 RAR to help raise the platoon. I got these young guys as basic soldiers, trained them up and now they are deployed overseas as part of the mortar section. To build something from the ground up is an amazing feeling,” Corporal Smith said.
“I am definitely proud to be here with them, I’ve watched these guys grow into mortar men and their attitude towards everything they do is very professional. It’s a great honour to be their section commander,” he said.
The 7 RAR Mortar Platoon was re-raised on 27 January 2011, following the delinking of the 5th / 7th Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment (5/7 RAR) in 2006. Until now, the 7 RAR mortars hadn’t seen operational service as an independent battalion since their tour of Vietnam in 1968.
“We are a part of that tradition now and it goes down in military history, it’s a great feeling and I know the rest of the boys will never forget it,” Corporal Smith added.
Second in Command of the Brigade Advisory Team and 7 RAR Mortar Platoon Commander, Captain Luke Hagerty, said the mortar section has achieved much since their addition to the ranks of the Adelaide-based infantry battalion.
“It’s been a long road since we raised the platoon, conducting a lot of exercises, training and now operational service to get us to our peak. I know the boys have bonded together. We are a solid crew who are very professional and know our jobs. We are doing an important job well,” Captain Hagerty said.