outside the square
The basic SASR patrol course is one of the first modules
undertaken by Reinforcement Cycle soldiers.
Photos from SASR
with the SASR
Greg Smith follows two troopers through their reinforcement cycles
issue we start an occasional series on SASR.
a down-to-earth look at what type of person serves with the regiment
and an insight into what happens in the 18 months it takes to train
someone for duty in the Perth-based regiment.
series will follow the careers of two soldiers, Tprs Sam and Stuart,
who are among 23 soldiers currently in training.
series will appear each time the duo passes a milestone in their
training schedule (reinforcement cycle) and hopefully will remove
the apprehension many soldiers have towards a career with SASR.
the next cycle not scheduled until March 2004 (the same time as
the next selection course), we pick up as the troopers are almost
seven months into their training, having just completed a demolitions
course and preparing for an unusual event - a weekend off.
guess I'll just sleep, maybe visit the gym or the beach and have
a few beers," said 24-year-old Tpr Stuart, who is contemplating
a relaxing two days off from SAS training.
fellow REO (the term for soldiers in the reinforcement phase) Sam,
23, was looking forward to some breathing space.
at this stage of less than halfway through their training, both
said it was too early to tell how they were progressing.
be honest, I haven't even thought about it; probably because you
don't get much time to do any thinking like that," said Sam.
just go from one training activity to the next and any time off
in between is spent recovering."
the space of 28 weeks they have completed courses in weapons, basic
patrolling, parachuting, combat survival, signaller/medic, heavy
weapons, demolitions and method of entry.
next phase would be a six-week urban combat course.
REOs are relishing the opportunities before them, they are different
to anything they've ever done.
just a complete change to normal Army life," said Stuart, who
originally contemplated SASR as a career during recruit training.
for Stuart, the change is more pronounced than for most, considering
he comes from a career as a RAEME technician with 5 Avn Regt.
guess I'd always been interested in the Army, with Dad being a reserve,"
even though I joined as a techo, I always wanted to join SASR, ever
since I heard about them at recruit training.
The basic SASR patrol course is one of the first modules undertaken
by Reinforcement Cycle soldiers.
Photos from SASR
you can't join them straight-up, so I did my time training as a
technician at Wagga and Oakey then with 5 Avn Regt in Townsville.
just had to try to do it (SAS) at some stage, otherwise I would
have regretted it.
one day I just came home and it just felt right."
one may not associate the hard physical grind of an SAS trooper
to that of a helicopter technician, Stuart had a strong sporting
background that made it easier to cope with the physical demands
of the selection course.
technical skills were a bonus on a course that demands so much out-of-the-box
preparation consisted of a few pack marches and spending some time
in the bush at Hinchinbrook Island. But "at the opposite end
to the resort".
everyone who attempts selection, Stuart said the course moved him
out of his comfort zone.
learn your limits and how far you can go," he said.
you have to be confident in yourself to be able to have a go."
big difficulty for Stuart, as expected, was learning the basics
of infantry soldiering.
you can guess, I haven't spent a lot of time out bush. But you not
only learn from the instructors, but from the guys in the group,
most of whom come from infantry."
on the other hand, has been in infantry for all of his four years
in the Army.
Stuart, he also has family military history to draw on, with his
father and grandfather both having served in the Army.
Sam also always had it as a goal to attempt SASR selection.
though I had an infantry background, I found it [the course] extremely
physically demanding," said the pint-sized soldier with the
baby face, who went from 68kg to 55kg during selection. (Stuart
went from 92 to 80kg).
well, I don't weigh much to begin with, and the food deprivation
does get to you at first. But you get used to it."
the difficulties, the duo were encouraged by those around them on
were all of a single purpose, so it was motivating to have like-minded
people around," said Sam.
all wanted the same thing, so that made us all push towards a common
goal and made it easier to cope with the demands, knowing that other
people were suffering the same as you."
both soldiers, the change in culture has been enlightening.
a highly-demanding unit as far as work goes," said Sam. "But
while the hours are long, they make a point of taking downtime if
it's there. You don't hang around if there's nothing on.
compare it to playing in a professional sporting team, where everyone
just wants to perform at a constantly higher standard. The type
of work also makes us a very close-knit bunch.
living in Perth is great. The living standards and lifestyle are
high. It's a place where you'd want to bring up kids."