Battery embraces new littoral role

15 February 2024

Traditionally steeped in the ethos of conventional gunnery, the 101st Battery of the 8th/12th Regiment, Royal Australian Artillery, is now at the forefront of a new frontier: the littoral space.

Originally formed in 1916 as the 101st Howitzer Battery, derived from members of the 1st Field Artillery Brigade at Gallipoli, the unit was disbanded post-war and reformed in the 1920s and again in 1957.

With the 2023 Defence Strategic Review (DSR) recommending a strategic shift towards a light-littoral brigade, 101st Battery has transitioned to specialise in intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) operations within archipelagos and coastal areas.

Battery commander Major Jack Bagwill said 101st Battery was well suited to take on the challenge of ISR in the coastal region.

“We’re comprised of well-trained joint fires observers and artillery command systems operators; individuals who are already accustomed to the science of intelligence surveillance and reconnaissance, and synchronisation of joint effects,” Major Bagwill said.

“Their expertise in observation and target acquisition seamlessly translated into the littoral environment, where instead of hills, we’re working with tides, beaches and rocky landings.”

He said the transition was not without its challenges, but the members of 101st Battery embraced them, studying and enhancing their operation of small watercraft and honing their skills in intelligence photography for deployment on Operation Resolute, the ADF’s endeavour to safeguard the nation's borders and maritime interests.

“101st Battery has embraced the evolving battlespace and forged a path forward in the littoral space,” Major Bagwill said.

“By day and by night, we’re conducting ISR to feed back to the Australian Border Force, enabling them to follow up on suspected illegal activities in the area.

“In the wake of the DSR, the Army is preparing for the introduction of long-range fires, but 8/12th Regiment is also in the process of adapting to the 1st Brigade’s new mandate as the Army’s light-littoral combat brigade. In that vein we have done something unique here; we have built a dedicated brigade reconnaissance element.” 



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