Engineers search farm
This is not Afghanistan; it is rural Victoria, on a farm near the town of Derrinallum west of Melbourne, and the soldiers have deployed to support the Victoria Police, using skills, knowledge, training and experience gained a world away.
Special Operations Engineer Regiment's Commanding Officer, Lieutenant Colonel H (identity protected for security reasons) explained that after the massive blast, which occurred on April 12, Victoria Police requested support from SOER to examine and search areas of interest, which it was feared could contain further explosives.
“Given SOER’s unique skills, capabilities and experience, the Victoria Police sought the regiment’s help to check a number of areas on the property, where potential caches and further explosive hazards were thought to be located,” Lt-Col H said.
In response to the call for help, SOER deployed a team of high-risk search and explosive ordnance disposal specialists, explosive detection dogs and handlers, medical, signal and other support staff to the location where, over a period of three days, they methodically searched two sites on the property.
The activity was conducted under Defence Aid to the Civilian Community (DACC) provisions.
“Our personnel used a range of SOER’s capabilities to conduct the high-risk search, which commenced in the week leading up to Anzac Day and was completed with the return of all personnel on April 27. During that time our explosives detection dogs, electronic and manual search techniques were used. No further explosive hazards were found,” Lt-Col H said.
“The teams spent Anzac Day working to ensure public safety and allow the Victoria Police to continue their investigations, safe in the knowledge that the areas of interest had been comprehensively searched by the ADF’s search and explosive ordnance disposal experts.”
SOER provides Special Operations Command (Socomd) with an integrated, rapidly deployable and specialised capability to counter chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear and explosive (CBRNE) threats across the spectrum of special operations – both domestically and overseas.
In addition to Royal Australian Engineers, the SOER consists of Army, Navy and Air Force members from a range of other corps, including intelligence, signals, medical, nursing, ordnance, transport, and electrical and mechanical engineers.
The regiment also employs specialist civilian staff to ensure the unit is always operating at the cutting edge and with the latest counter-CBRNE technology and capability.
“This activity highlights the high regard in which SOER is held as well as the unique capabilities that the unit can and does provide to assist civilian authorities as well as Socomd across a very broad spectrum of threats and support requirements,” Lt-Col H said.