With more than 1300 multinational soldiers onboard HMAS Adelaide for Exercise Rim of the Pacific 2018, Australian Army soldier, Sergeant Josue Moran, had his work cut out for him.
The 33-year-old Command Support Clerk from Townsville’s 2nd Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment, was responsible for tracking the movements of Task Force Black personnel in Adelaide during the exercise.
“Task Force Black was a battalion pre-landing force led by 2nd Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment, and included soldiers from the United States Marine Corps, Japan and Tonga,” Sergeant Moran said.
Military personnel from Sri Lanka, Canada, New Zealand, Indonesia and Malaysia also joined the ship’s company, bringing the total number of Adelaide’s embarked forces to more than 800.
Exercise Rim of the Pacific 2018, or RIMPAC as it is commonly known, involved 25 nations, 45 ships and 200 aircraft, and was conducted across a vast geographic area around the Hawaiian Islands and parts of Southern California.
With so many moving parts, Sergeant Moran said it was important to know exactly where everyone in the Task Force was and their movements.
“Without a mobile or direct telephone line, physically processing personnel is necessary to ensure everyone is accounted for when leaving and arriving,” he said.
On top of challenging communications he said that last minute changes added uncertainty to the mix.
“Poor weather conditions or changes in transport priorities might mean personnel are bumped from a manifest or transferred to a different packet without us knowing right away,” he said.
“The other two clerks and I were often on the quarterdeck watching for the Marine Corps Amphibious Assault Vehicles, landing craft, small boats and aircraft coming in.”
When Sergeant Moran was not running around accounting for personnel, he was reporting numbers and names up the chain and processing administration to ensure the welfare of Task Force Black.
Moving through the ship’s crowded passageways, he was been pleasantly surprised to learn that many of the embarked forces spoke his native language.
Sergeant Moran was raised in El Salvador but since moving to Australia at the age of six and joining the Army in 2003, opportunities to speak Spanish when away from his family have been sparse.
“It was great to chat with the US-Mexicans and I also met two people from El Salvador, a Columbian and someone from Peru on the ship,” he said.
His fluency in Spanish proved useful early on when Task Force Black disembarked the ship for a week of force integration training at Marine Corps Base, Hawaii.
“Task Force Black was accommodated at ‘tent city’ with the Chileans who I spent the first few days with,” he said.
“I helped them settle in by translating for them and showing them where they needed to be.”
Helping people get to where they need to be is a strength of the Sergeant who recently participated in the 2nd Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment, amphibious restructure in 2017, halving the unit’s complement.
Despite the unit’s reduction in posted strength, Sergeant Moran said that the team was busier than ever.
“Seeing the Battalion transition to becoming the Army’s amphibious unit has been extremely rewarding. We have gone down in numbers but we have increased tempo as the unit explores more amphibious training,” he said.
“With more training, the soldiers are out the door more often and with that comes a requirement for greater personnel and administration support, which has been a good challenge.”
While Sergeant Moran is in his fifth and final year at the 2nd Battalion, he has been proud of the new amphibious capability that was demonstrated to international partners during RIMPAC 18.