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
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