WATERLOO DINNER RAE MID-YEAR UPDATE – JUNE 2022
Dear Fellow Sappers,
A warm welcome to each of you wherever you may be for the 107th annual
Waterloo Dinner – an event that allows us to come together as Sappers, honour
our proud heritage and reflect on the many achievements of our Corps.
I understand the importance of the HOC address; however, also recognise an
audience of Royal Australian Engineers appreciates brevity and has little appetite
for long winded speeches. To that end, I will keep this short and address three
key themes – our contributions, modernisation, and support to Sappers and their
2022 has been a significant year for the Corps, we celebrate 120 years since
various colonial units merged as one engineer team, under the authority of our
Commonwealth constitution. A ceremony will be undertaken at the School of
Military Engineering on the 1 July and I welcome you to attend the Sapper Week
to be conducted from the 31st October to 4 November. This will include the Corps Conference, a Section competition with all RAE Units participating and a number of other activities to celebrate and reflect on our history. 2022 also marks the Platinum Jubilee for Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II, as the Colonel-in-Chief the Corps arranged a gift to thank her for her continued support to our Corps.
I am not going to single out achievements by units, the Sapper Magazine serves
this purpose, rather I wanted to take the opportunity to reflect on the achievements of our people across the Total Workforce – they have and continue to be significant. Our relevance and the demand for sappers remains strong within Army and across the Joint Force. This has been evident through extensive
involvement in domestic operations with Sappers providing force elements
within Operation COVID ASSIST and AGED CARE ASSIST. While we were
not deployed in our core role, our sappers performed their task with professionalism and enhanced our reputation as a can-do Corps.
This was further reinforced throughout Operation FLOOD ASSIST where our Regular and Reserve units were central to the ADF response. Throughout Northern NSW and South East Queensland our people were able to provide much needed support to the community. I received nothing but high praise from the chain of command,emergency services, all levels of government and the community. Our Sappers once again demonstrated their utility, professionalism and most importantly,empathy and humility.
Through OPERATION TONGA ASSIST, the Kabul crisis and security
cooperation exercises and exchanges with the Philippines, Indonesia, Timor-
Leste, Fiji, Papua New Guinea and the US, Sappers are playing a central role
within our region and contributing to the strategic objective to SHAPE Australia’s
strategic environment. In the Pacific, our works and construction engineers are
deeply involved in multi-billion dollar whole-of-government projects as valuable
contributors to the Governments South West Pacific Step Up. Our continued
support to the Army Aboriginal Community Assistance Programme has been
remarkable, with our men and women enduring hardship in austere environments
and changing people’s lives for the better through sheer determination and
technical skills. We continue to punch above our weight.
This work is extremely important. But so too is further testing our foundation
warfighting skills to be ready for the next challenge. We need to be honest about
the impact of a number of years supporting domestic operations and COVID
restrictions. We need to fight to train and ensure we focus on development of the
professional mastery of our junior NCOs and officers. Our School remains at the
centerpiece of the Corps to support this important work.
This leads to my second theme regarding modernisation. The Corps has
benefitted from a number of capability enhancements; however, must ensure we
are postured for the future. Well done to the team at CATC who did a mountain
of work to progress our trades through ECRM. We have also seen investment in
force structures with the re-establishment of 12 CE Works at Enoggera and the
establishment of 13 Engineer Regiment in Perth. We now face the challenge of
growing the people to fill these positions to truly deliver additional capability.
This will require us to think differently on how we recruit and train across the
Major platforms such as Armoured engineering being delivered within L8160
will lead to opportunities; however, will require the Corps to think differently
about how we structure, train and provide support within a combined arms team.
This is more than just adopting a new platform and is one of the biggest
challenges the Corps has faced. To that end, introduction into service of this
capability will be a central part of the Corps conference. This will be supported
by an Establishment Review in 2023 which I believe will require the Corps to
fundamentally review how we best support Army and the Joint Force.
As we approach the Corps conference and the establishment Review, I ask that
you keep an open mind with a focus on the future. While we will be informed by
history, we will need to identify legacy capabilities that are no longer fit for
purpose or irrelevant and prioritise capabilities to meet future challenges.
Finally and most importantly, the third theme of support to our Sappers and their
families. Our people remain the centre of gravity and make the Corps. This is
supported by our community and history - essential in enabling our people to
perform their role both at home and overseas. I ask that you and your teams
continue to identify additional opportunities to build on the excellent foundation
we have as a Corps contributing to Army in the community.
Promoting and enabling our Sapper Associations is crucial in supporting our
people. Once a Sapper, you are always a Sapper and I encourage Sappers to join
an Association well before they leave the Army as it provides a connection to
support camaraderie and interaction across the Corps outside of our units.
In closing, each of you can take great pride in the role you have taken to contribute to Army and the Joint Force up to this point; however much work is yet to be done on how sappers can contribute to the future challenges. I therefore ask each one of you to identify opportunities where you can make a difference and ensure the Corps is well positioned for the future.
Thank you for what you do.
Follow the Sapper. Ubique.
Brigadier Mick Say,
Head of Corps, Royal Australian Engineers
Lord Howe Island Airstrip Construction 1974.
Detachment from 1FER Holsworthy, Feb - Sep 1974.
Exercise Kentia Palm.
In preparation for the 50th anniversary of the completion of the civilian airstrip, constructed by Army with RAN support, we are seeking names of those RAE, RAEME, RASIGS, RASVY, RAAOC, AACC, and RAN (LCH Crews) who were there.
Sadly the Army Rolls have not survived and memories are fading - we have 20 names so far, but believe around 120 were involved, over the three rotations. The idea is to present the names to the Lord Howe Island Community in 2024 and also have a reunion, hopefully on Lord Howe Island.
Gary Barker 0409 446 475; firstname.lastname@example.org
Ron Byron 07 3294 0409; email@example.com
1st Field Squadron, 1st Combat Engineer Regiment
1 Field Squadron RAE Association.
1 FIELD SQUADRON UPDATE – JANUARY TO JUNE 2022.
Dear 1 Fd Sqn Associations,
The Squadron continues to set and exceed high standards – which is due to the drive and dedication
that every member displays whilst being “Ready, Professional, Proud”. This started with the annual
mandatory training requirements and individual courses to achieve our baseline readiness, which then
flowed into Section Level training designed and ran exceptionally well by the Corporals.
Shortly after this, the Federal Government announced that the ADF would be undertaking OP AGED
CARE ASSIST – and the Squadron took the lead for 1 CER to deploy 100 personnel into Western
Australia. Whilst we did not deploy the Squadron into WA, we deployed a team of five into Alice
Springs and another team of five into Sydney to augment Independent Medical Teams assisting aged
care facilities. This then evolved into five more personnel supporting in Sydney and two personnel in
Perth. Concurrently, the Squadron deployed 10 personnel on OP FLOOD ASSIST in Lismore, and 10
personnel to the Philippines as part of the Joint Australian Training Team – Philippines. This saw 37
personnel (close to half the Squadron) supporting Domestic and Security Cooperation Operations.
Whilst supporting these operations, the Squadron also completed a range of valuable training. The
limited number of personnel in the Squadron provided an opportunity to integrate the Marine
Rotational Force – Darwin engineers into our activities. This was at the forefront during Ex
AMPHIBIAN CRAWL, where Marines assisted in the construction of a Medium Girder Bridge and
participated in a 90km zodiac infill to an objective to conduct Engineer Reconnaissance – thus helping
the Squadron commence its journey towards Littoral Operations, the vision Army has for the 1st
Brigade in Darwin.
The next activity, Ex AMPHIBIAN WALK, allowed sappers to hone their search and demolition skills
and incorporated Marine EOD and explosive detection dog handlers from the Malaysian Armed
Forces. The search activities focused on civilian facilities in a scenario that saw an explosive threat
present in the lead up to major sporting events. The demolitions serials allowed for various munitions
to be destroyed through explosive hazard reduction, and for sappers to reacquaint themselves with a
variety of breaching charges.
Most recently, the Regiment deployed into the field for Ex GOANNA CANTER at Mount Bundey
Training Area – something that has not been possible since 2020 due to a range of issues. During this
exercise, the Squadron conducted offensive and defensive mounted manoeuvre, established obstacles
and a company defensive position, conducted route search, and culminated with a urban clearance.
Overall – a great activity for the entire Regiment that reinforced the importance of collective training
in the field environment.
As always, we pass on our best wishes to all former members of the squadron and their families.
Officer Commanding, 1 Field Squadron
Corps Regimental Sergeant Major.
Warrant Officer Class One Matthew Dickson.
On enlistment to the Australian Army on 19 Aug 1987 Warrant Officer Class One Matthew Dickson was allocated to the Royal Australian Engineer Corps.
Warrant Officer Dickson’s early career postings include 4th Field Engineer Regiment, 2/3 Field Engineer Regiment, 1st Combat Engineer Regiment, 3rd Combat Engineer Regiment, 6th Engineer Support Regiment, School of Military Engineering, Australian Defence Force Academy and United States Army Engineer School.
Warrant Officer Dickson was promoted to Warrant Officer Class One in January 2012 and held Regimental Sergeant Major appointments with 5th Combat Engineer Regiment, 2nd Combat Engineer Regiment, and Melbourne University Regiment. He also served as Senior Instructor Warrant Officer Training, Warrant Officer and Non Commissioned Officer Academy and Career Advisor Engineers, Directorate Soldier Career Management. He is currently posted to Combined Arms Training Centre as the Sergeant Major Trade and Training - Engineers. He assumed the appointment as Corps Regimental Sergeant Major in January 2022.
Warrant Officer Dickson has deployed to East Timor as the Engineer Troop Sergeant with Australian Battalion Five and Afghanistan as the Engineer Squadron Sergeant Major with Mentoring and Reconstruction Task Force One. He also deployed with elements of 2nd Combat Engineer Regiment to conduct disaster relief operations in Fiji.
Warrant Officer Dickson is married to Katherine and they have two adult children. His interests include reading, paddle boarding and kayaking, outdoor activities and in his spare time he volunteers with ST John Ambulance Australia.
Commander 7th Brigade
Brigadier Mick Say, DSC
On the completion of officer training at the Australian Defence Force Academy and the Royal Military College, Brigadier Say graduated into the Royal Australian Engineer Corps.
As a junior officer, Brigadier Say completed a number of Corps postings within the 1st Combat Engineer Regiment, School of Military Engineering and the then Land Warfare Development Centre.
His non-corps postings included the operations cell at Headquarters 1st Division and Headquarters 7th Brigade. Brigadier Say had the privilege of being the Commanding Officer of the 1st Combat Engineer Regiment in 2013-14.
Post unit command, Brigadier Say completed a number of postings to Army Headquarters within Career Management – Army and as the Military Assistant to the Chief of Army. He assumed his current appointment as Commander 7th Brigade in December 2021.
Brigadier Say has been fortunate to deploy twice while in command positions: in Afghanistan as Officer Commanding Engineers for Mentoring and Reconstruction Task Force One and in Iraq as Commander Task Group Taji VII.
He also deployed to Iraq as the SO3 Engineer Operations in the British Headquarters Multi-National Division South East. Brigadier Say holds a Bachelor of Science and Masters of Management (Leadership) from the University of New South Wales, a Graduate Diploma in Strategic Management and Leadership from the Chartered Management Institute and a Masters of Arts (Defence Studies) from King’s College London.
Brigadier Say is married to Wendy, an Army Educational Officer, and they have three sons.
Brigadier Say is Head of Corps for the Royal Australian Engineers. He is a passionate sportsman and still enjoys opportunities to play social cricket.