4 Regt RAA reverts to traditional structure
After four years of organisational changes and evolution, 4 Regt RAA, which celebrates its 55th birthday next month, will revert to the traditional structure of an artillery regiment.
The recent trial of the three observation post batteries supported by a single gun battery was unsuccessful.
The arrival of eight upgraded guns in July will mark the end of the trial as the regiment commences a return to three gun batteries each eventually with four M777A2s, a battery commander’s tactical party, joint fires teams and a battlegroup Joint Fires and Effects Coordination Centre (JFECC).
Integral logistic support for the regiment will be maintained by the Combat Service Support Battery.
CO 4 Regt RAA Lt-Col Damian Hill said the unit identified there might be a better way to do business, experimented, took the findings and then made the changes.
“The traditional organisational structure is the best means available to incorporate the regiment’s new capabilities,” Lt-Col Hill said.
“I am very happy – it takes time to work out how modernisation will affect an organisation, but what we have done is the right thing.
“A gun battery has been generated for each 3 Bde manoeuvre arms unit, which will help us form relationships and understanding as we train together in combined arms.
“When we do this on operations we don’t have the friction of trying to integrate our staff or capabilities into a battlegroup.”
Along with Plan Beersheba and changes to the structure of 3 Bde, changes were also made to 4 Regt RAA sub-unit structures.
The arrival of 2 Cav Regt to Townsville meant the re-raising of 106 Bty for the fourth time in its history as its supporting sub-unit.
The battery will receive its four guns by 2016, which will complete the planned Land 17 organisation.
The affiliations of 107 Bty to 1RAR and 108 Bty to 2RAR will remain the same while the relatively newer sub-unit of 109 Bty, raised in 2011, will continue to support 3RAR.
At this stage, 108 Bty do not have guns but have a battery commander’s tactical party, a battlegroup JFECC and joint fires teams to support the 2RAR Amphibious Ready Element.
Lt-Col Hill said the regiment had been using the M777A2s for three years and the weapons were approaching its first upgrade.
“The M777A2 Block 2 upgrade will include minor modifications to the battery and digital systems and maintain our compatibility to our coalition partners such as the US Marine Corps,” Lt-Col Hill said.
“The M777A2 is an excellent gun and the regiment is maintaining modernisation in stride with available capabilities.
“But it’s not just the gun – it’s the system built around the gun that enables it to continuously be at the cutting edge of its capability.
“The Advanced Field Artillery Tactical Data System (AFATDS) command and control system is the backbone of our joint fires capability and is in an ongoing modernisation process. We began with AFATDS Version 6, are now using Version 6.7 and the software will soon be upgraded to Version 6.8.”
The manning of 4 Regt RAA is 20 to 30 gunners more than when the regiment used the L119 Hamel Gun.
The regiment’s strength will increase by about 40 soldiers in early 2016-17 as it grows into a three-gun battery regiment with a posted strength of close to 350.
Lt-Col Hill said the regiment was nearly five years away from having a mature capability.
“By then we will have sergeants and battery commanders in the regiment who have only used Land 17 equipment,” Lt-Col Hill said.
“Another significant change for us is the number of females in the unit.
“In 1997, when I was a lieutenant, we had one female soldier in the regiment. We now have nearly 20 female soldiers, including the second RAA field gunner lieutenant.
“We intend to recruit more females from the wider Army into the unit and other parts of the RAA, as I believe we are a very attractive and diverse career option.
“We offer the flexibility of roles from command post functions, gun numbers and forward observers. The regiment is ready, we have vacancies and I would fill them with females today if I could.”