Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
As well as ground troops, approximately 80 Leopard tanks and artillery, it also operates helicopters: Blackhawk, Chinook, and has taken delivery of the first of 22 Eurocopter Tiger reconnaissance/attack helicopters (with the last of the UH-1 Iroquois serving with distinction in Aceh for humanitarian relief after 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake before removal from service.) Recently plans have been announced to procure 59 M1A1 tanks.
Australian soldiers have been involved in a number of minor and major conflicts throughout its history, but only in World War II did Australian territory come under direct attack.
The history of the Australian Army can be divided into two periods:
- 1901-47, when limits were set on the size of the regular army, the vast majority of peacetime soldiers were in the reserve army units of the Australian Citizens Military Force (also known as the CMF or Militia), and Australian Imperial Forces were formed to serve overseas, and
- post-1947, when a standing peacetime infantry force was formed and the CMF (known as the Army Reserve after 1980) began to decline in importance.
The army has been involved in many peacekeeping operations, usually under the auspices of the United Nations. The biggest one began in 1999 in East Timor. Other notable operations include peacekeeping on Bougainville and in the Solomon Islands, which are ongoing as of May 2004. Humanitarian relief after 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake in Aceh Province, Indonesia, Operation Sumatra Assist, ended on 24 March 2005.
To be completed.
The "two armies": militia and permanent forces 1870–1947
The first conflicts in which large numbers of Australian-born soldiers fought overseas were the Maori Wars, between 1863–72, although almost all of these—about 2,500 men—served in New Zealand colonial units, or the British Army.
By the time that the garrisons were withdrawn in 1870, the six separate self-governing colonies in Australia already had their own separate, part-time reserve units, known as militia or "volunteers". The colonial governments began to raise professional artillery units, to staff coastal batteries. From 1877 onwards, the British sent officers to advise the colonies on defence matters, and in the early 1880s, the first inter-colonial defence conferences were held.
During the economic depression of the early 1890s, large-scale strikes in various colonies were met with governments mobilising and/or threatening to use militia against strikers. This was very unpopular and led to successful and historically-significant campaigns against the formation of standing, regular forces. The "two armies" system was established whereby the only infantry units would be militia, although permanent artillery and other support units remained.
Boer War 1899–1902
Before Federation and the forming of the national army, the six Australian colonial governments sent contingents to South Africa to serve in the Second Boer War. These soldiers were paid by the British government and as such were technically part of the British Army.
The first detachment, sent in October 1899, was known as The Australian Regiment and was an infantry unit, made up mainly of volunteers from the Colonies of Victoria, Tasmania, South Australia and Western Australia, who left on one ship for Cape Town. Due to the way the war developed, these troops were converted from infantry to mounted infantry.
Strong resistance from the Afrikaner forces led to further recruiting in the Australian colonies. Known as Bushmen's Contingents, these soldiers were usually volunteers with horse-riding and shooting skills but no military experience. After Federation in 1901, eight Australian Commonwealth Horse battalions were sent.
Many of the Australian units were short-lived and subject to frequent restructuring. Some Australians were also transferred to multinational units, such as the Bushveldt Carbineers, famed as the last unit in which Harry "Breaker" Morant and Peter Hancock served, before their court martial and execution for alleged war crimes.
Australian units served at many notable actions, including Sunnyside, Slingersfontein, Pink Hill, the Relief of Kimberley, Paardeburg, the Siege of Eland's River, Rhenosterkop and Haartebeestefontein. In all, 16,175 Australians, with 16,314 horses, served in the Boer War; 251 were killed in action, 267 died of other causes and 43 went missing in action. Five Victoria Crosses were awarded to members of the Australian contingents.
As the Boer War raged, the Commonwealth of Australia was founded on January 1, 1901. On March 1, 28,923 colonial soldiers, comprised of 1,457 professional soldiers, 18,603 paid militia and 8,863 unpaid volunteers, were transferred to the new Australian Army. However, the individual units continued to be administered under the various colonial Acts. Maj. Gen. Sir Edward Hutton, a former commander of the New South Wales Military Forces, became the first commander of the Commonwealth Forces on December 26 and set to work devising an integrated structure for the new army.
The Defence Act of 1903 brought all of the units under one piece of legislation; more significantly, it prevented the raising of standing infantry units and specified that militia forces could not be used in industrial disputes, and could not serve outside Australia. The vast majority of soldiers remained in militia units, now known as the Citizen Military Forces (CMF).
In 1911, two significant changes followed a report by Lord Kitchener: the Royal Military College, Duntroon was established and; a system of universal national service began: boys aged 12 to 18 became cadets, and men aged 18–26 had to serve in the CMF.
World War One
When the United Kingdom declared war on Germany at the start of World War I, the Australian government followed without hesitation. This was considered to be expected by the Australian public, because of the very large number of British-born citizens and first generation Anglo-Australians at the time. By the end of the war, almost 20% of those who served in the Australian forces had been born in the United Kingdom, even though nearly all enlistments had occurred in Australia.
Because existing militia forces were unable to serve overseas, an all-volunteer expeditionary force, the Australian Imperial Force (AIF) was formed from August 15, 1914. The Australian government had pledged to supply 20,000 men, organised as one infantry division and one light horse brigade plus supporting units. The first commander of the AIF was General William Bridges, who also assumed direct command of the infantry division.
However, the first target for Australian action was close to home, seizing German colonial outposts in the south-west Pacific and New Guinea. The 2000-man force assembled for this purpose, known as the Australian Naval and Military Expeditionary Force (AN&MEF), landed near Rabaul on September 11, 1914 and after some fighting, the German garrison surrendered on September 21.
Departing from Western Australia on November 1, 1914, the AIF was sent initially to British-controlled Egypt, to pre-empt any attack by the Ottoman Empire, and with a view to opening another front against the Central Powers. The AIF had four infantry brigades with the first three making up the 1st Division. The 4th Brigade was joined with the sole New Zealand infantry brigade to form the New Zealand and Australian Division.
The combined Australian and New Zealand Army Corps (ANZAC), commanded by British general William Birdwood, went into action when Allied forces landed on the Gallipoli peninsula on April 25, 1915 (now commemorated as Anzac Day). The Battle of Gallipoli would last for eight months of bloody stalemate. By the end of the campaign, Australian casualties were 8,700 killed and 19,000 wounded or sick. The original AIF contingent had continued to grow with the arrival of the 2nd Division which was formed in Egypt and went to Gallipoli in August.
After the withdrawal from Gallipoli, the infantry underwent a major expansion with the two veteran divisions (1st and 2nd) being split to create an additional two divisions (4th and 5th). The 3rd Division was formed in Australia and sent to the Western Front, in France. The light horse brigades had served as infantry at Gallipoli. In 1916, they were reunited with their horses and formed into cavalry divisions in Egypt to campaign against Turkish forces in the Sinai and Palestine. Australia also supplied the majority of troops for the newly formed Imperial Camel Corps Brigade .
The first Australian division to see action on the Western Front was the 5th Division which was thrown unprepared into the futile Battle of Fromelles, a "diversion" to the Battle of the Somme that cost the division 5,500 casualties for no gain. The 1st, 2nd and 4th Divisions, combined as I Anzac Corps, fought the Battle of Pozières and subsequent Battle of Mouquet Farm, part of the Battle of the Somme. In Egypt, the light horse had helped repulse the Turkish attempt capture the Suez Canal in the Battle of Romani.
During 1917, the five divisions in France fought in three Allied offensives: the Battle of Bullecourt (part of the Battle of Arras), the Battle of Messines and the Third Battle of Ypres. Meanwhile the light horse had entered southern Palestine. After two attempts to break through the Turkish defences at Gaza, the decisive victory was achieved in the Third Battle of Gaza in which the Australians captured the town of Beersheba in a dramatic cavalry charge. By the end of the year, British forces had captured Jerusalem.
The German Spring Offensive of early 1918 broke through British lines south of the Somme. The Australians were called on to halt the German advance east of Amiens at the town of Villers-Bretonneux . In preparation for the British counter-offensive, the newly formed Australian Corps commanded by General John Monash, fought the Battle of Hamel, widely regarded as the finest set-piece strategy of the war on the Western Front. The final Allied offensive began with the Battle of Amiens on August 8, and the Australian divisions, along with the Canadian Corps, spearheaded the advance south of the Somme. By the end of September, the Australian divisions were severely depleted, with only the 3rd and the (rebuilt) 5th deemed to be fit for action. On October 5 the Australian Corps was withdrawn to rest and saw no more fighting before the war ended.
In the Middle East, the light horse had endured summer in the Jordan Valley before leading the British offensive in the final Battle of Megiddo. The 10th Light Horse Regiment was the first Allied unit to reach Damascus.
A total of 331,814 Australians were sent overseas to serve as part of the AIF, which represented 13% of the white male population. About 2,100 women served with the 1st AIF, mainly as nurses. 18% (61,859) of those who served in the AIF were killed. The casualty rate (killed or wounded) was 64%, reportedly the highest of any country which took part in World War I. This casualty rate was exacerbated by a perpetual manpower shortage in the AIF due to the fact that it remained a volunteer force for the duration of the war—the only British or Dominion force to do so. Two referendums on conscription had been defeated, preserving the volunteer status, but stretching the reserves towards the end of the war.
To be completed
World War Two
When war broke out between Britain and Germany in 1939, the 2nd AIF was formed, to fight in France. The AIF's main strength would consist of four divisions raised in 1939–40: the 6th, 7th, 8th and 9th. Maj. Gen. Thomas Blamey was appointed commander of the 2nd AIF.
Compulsory military service was introduced: all men over 21 had to complete three months training with the Militia. However, to ensure home defences, Militia members were barred from joing the AIF.
After British forces withdrew from France in the face of the German Blitzkrieg, the 6th, 7th and 9th Divisions, as I Corps, were sent to Egypt. From late 1940, the individual divisions faced Italian and German forces in North Africa. The 6th Division then experienced many casualties in mainland Greece, and on Crete, and 3,000 of its personnel were taken prisoner in this campaign. The 7th Division formed the body of the successful Allied invasion of Vichy French-controlled Lebanon and Syria in 1941. The 9th Division and part of the 7th played a celebrated defensive role at the Siege of Tobruk.
In 1941, a start was made on raising an 1st Armoured Division, as part of the AIF.
As fears of war with Japan mounted, most of the 8th Division was sent to Singapore, to strengthen the British garrison; the remaining battalions were deployed in the islands to Australia's north, at Rabaul, Ambon and Timor. Following short but bloody campaigns in Malaya and the islands, virtually all of the 8th division was lost, when stronger Japanese forces swept through South East Asia, in early 1942. In the Fall of Singapore alone, more than 15,000 Australians were taken prisoner. The 6th and 7th Divisions were recalled to Australia, as the country faced the prospect of invasion.
Blamey was appointed Commander-in-Chief in March 1942; in April a major re-organisation took place: the name First Army—which previously referred to a Militia formation—was re-assigned to I Corps, which was expanded to army size with the inclusion of Militia divisions. The 1st Army's initial area of responsibility was the defence of Queensland and northern New South Wales. The Second Army was responsible for south-eastern Australia; the other components of Australia's defences were III Corps (in Western Australia), the Northern Territory Force and New Guinea Force. Conscription was effectively introduced in mid-1942, when all men 18–35, and single men aged 35–45, were required to join the CMF.
In February 1942, a change in regulations meant that if 65% of the official, establishment strength of a Militia unit, or 75 per cent of the actual personnel, volunteered for the AIF, the unit became an AIF unit. At the time, the CMF were often scorned as "chocolate soldiers", or "chockos", because they were barred from fighting overseas. Nevertheless, Militia units distinguished themselves and suffered extremely high casualties during 1942, in New Guinea, which was then an Australian territory. The prime example was the 39th (Militia) Battalion , many of them very young, untrained and poorly equipped, who distinguished themselves and suffered heavy casualties, in the stubborn rearguard action on the Kokoda Track.
By late 1942, the 7th Division was beginning to relieve the Militia in New Guinea. In August, as the Kokoda battles raged, Militia and 7th Division units formed the bulk of Australian-US forces at the Battle of Milne Bay, the first outright defeat inflicted on Japanese land forces. The 6th and 7th Divisions, with Militia units and elements of the 1st Armoured, formed a large part of Allied forces which destroyed the major Japanese beachhead in New Guinea, at the Battle of Buna-Gona.
In 1943, the Defence Act was changed to allow Militia units to serve south of the Equator in South East Asia.
The 9th Division remained in North Africa and distinguished itself at the Second Battle of El Alamein, after which victory over Rommel was assured, and returned to Australia in 1943. Later that year it was pitched into battle against Japanese forces in New Guinea.
General Douglas MacArthur, the Supreme Allied Commander in the South West Pacific, was resented for his treatment of Australian forces. After the surrender of Allied forces in the Philippines, Australian ground forces comprised 100% of MacArthur's ground forces. As US forces re-built, however, he increasingly used Australian units for secondary assignments. The campaign on Bougainville after the departure of US forces is considered to be an example of this.
The 1st Army took responsibility for mopping-up and controlling areas which flanked US forces' "island-hopping" campaign towards Japan. Australian units were also responsible for the last phase of amphibious assaults during the Pacific War: the attacks on Japanese-occupied Borneo, including Tarakan, Brunei, British Borneo, Balikpapan and other targets in Sarawak.
Meanwhile, Australian prisoners of the Japanese, were often held in inhumane conditions, such as Changi prison, or in Japan itself. Some were also subject to severe forced labour, including the Burma Railway, or forced long distance marches, such as on Sandakan. There was a very high death rate among Allied prisoners of the Japanese.
A planned invasion of the Japanese home island of Honshu in 1946, Operation Coronet, would probably have included a proposed Australian 10th Division, formed from existing AIF personnel. However, the nuclear attacks on Hiroshima and Nagasaki caused Japan to surrender before the invasion became necessary.
Compulsory military service ended in 1945, and most Australian personnel had been demobilised by the end of 1946.
Out of more than 724,000 army personnel during World War Two, almost 400,000 served outside Australia. More than 18,000 died; 22,000 were wounded and more than 20,000 became prisoners of war.
Occupation of Japan
The British Commonwealth Occupation Force (BCOF), was the name of the joint Australian, British, Indian and New Zealand military forces in occupied Japan, from February 21, 1946 until the end of occupation in 1952.
Overall, Australians made up by far the biggest proportion of BCOF, and the army made up up most of the Australians. At its peak, BCOF comprised 40,000 personnel, equal to about 10% of the US military personnel in Japan.
The army contingent was centred around Australia's first ever standing infantry unit, the 34th Infantry Brigade, which had been formed from 2nd AIF and Militia personnel on Morotai in late 1945. The name of the brigade was changed to the Royal Australian Regiment in 1947. The position of GOC BCOF was always filled by an Australian Army officer.
While US forces were responsible for military government, BCOF was responsible for supervising demilitarisation and the disposal of Japan's war industries. BCOF was also responsible for occupation of the western prefectures of Shimane, Yamaguchi, Tottori, Okayama, Hiroshima and Shikoku Island. BCOF headquarters was at Kure. According to the AWM:
- Australian army .... personnel were involved in the location and securing of military stores and installations. The Intelligence Sections of the Australian battalions were given targets to investigate by BCOF Headquarters, in the form of grid references for dumps of Japanese military equipment. Warlike materials were destroyed and other equipment was kept for use by BCOF or returned to the Japanese. The destruction or conversion to civilian use of military equipment was carried out by Japanese civilians under Australian supervision. Regular patrols and road reconnaissances were initiated and carried out in the Australian area of responsibility as part of BCOF's general surveillance duties.
The Australian component of BCOF was responsible for over 20 million Japanese citizens, within a 57,000 square kilometre area.
During 1947, the BCOF began to wind down its presence in Japan. However, BCOF bases provided staging posts for Australian and other Commonwealth forces deployed to the Korean War, from 1949 onwards. BCOF was effectively wound-up in 1951, as control of Commonwealth forces in Japan was transferred to British Commonwealth Forces Korea.
The modern army, 1947–
Peacekeeping in East Timor
Commanders of the army
Chief of the Army (Chief of the General Staff prior to 1997; in reverse chronological order)
- Lieutenant General Peter Leahy , 28 June 2002 to present
- Lieutenant General Peter Cosgrove, July 2000 to 28 June 2002
- Lieutenant General Frank Hickling , June 1998 to July 2000
- Lieutenant General John Sanderson, June 1995 to June 1998
- Lieutenant General John Grey , 1992 to June 1995
- Lieutenant General Heny Coates , 1990 to 1992
- Lieutenant General Lawrence O'Donnell , 1987 to 1990
To be completed.
Structure of the Australian Army
The Australian Army, as with many other armies of nations that were formerly part of the British Empire, is structured in a similar way to the British Army. There are two main formations within the Australian Army;
- Deployable Joint Force Headquarters/1st Division - this is the main deployable formation, and contains the bulk of Australian regular forces. It is divided into 4 brigades:
- 1 Brigade
- 3 Brigade
- 7 Brigade
- 11 Brigade
- 2nd Division - this is the main home defence formation, consisting mainly of reserve forces. It is divided into 5 brigades:
- 4 Brigade
- 5 Brigade
- 8 Brigade
- 9 Brigade
- 13 Brigade
Units of the Regular Army
Within the Royal Australian Armoured Corps are a total of three regular regiments. One of these consists of a single squadron. Of the three, one operates in the armoured role, while the others are reconnaissance units:
- Armoured Regiments
- Armoured Reconnaissance Regiments
- 1st Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment - Light Infantry
- 2nd Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment - Light Infantry
- 3rd Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment - Parachute Infantry
- 4th Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment - Commando
- 5th/7th Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment - Mechanised Infantry
- 6th Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment - Motorised Infantry
In addition to the regular infantry, within the Australian Army are three units dedicated to the Regional Force Surveillance mission. These are dedicated reconnaissance units based in the north and west of Australia:
- North-West Mobile Force (Norforce)
- The Pilbara Regiment
- 51st Battalion, Far North Queensland Regiment
There is also the special forces element of the infantry. Special Operations has its own command structure, under which comes 4th Bn, RAR, as well as the dedicated special forces unit:
Combat Support Arms
The Royal Australian Artillery has four individual regiments and a single independent battery within the regular army:
- 1 Field Regiment - Close Support (L119 Light Gun)
- 4 Field Regiment - Close Support (L119 Light Gun)
- 8/12 Medium Regiment - Close Support (M198 Howitzer)
- 16 Air Defence Regiment - Air Defence (Rapier & RBS-70)
- 131 Locating Battery - Surveillance and Target Acquisition
The Royal Australian Engineers has a total of four regular regiments, plus a number of independent squadrons. Of these, three are ordinary combat engineer regiments (the equivilent of Field Regiments in the Royal Engineers), each of which is attached to a brigade. The fourth provides support for Land Headquarters (LHQ).
- 1 Combat Engineer Regiment - 1 Brigade
- 2 Combat Engineer Regiment - 7 Brigade
- 3 Combat Engineer Regiment - 3 Brigade
- 6 Engineer Support Regiment - LHQ
LHQ also has responsibility for four other regular engineers units:
- 1 Topographical Survey Squadron
- 17 Construction Squadron
- 21 Construction Squadron
- 19 Chief Engineer Works
Within the Royal Australian Signals , there are three regiments and a number of invidual squadrons, which provide communications for formations at brigade level and above:
- 1 Joint Support Unit (DJHQ/1 Division)
- 7 Signal Regiment (Electronic Warfare)
- 8 Signal Regiment (2 Division)
- 103 Signal Squadron (3 Brigade)
- 104 Signal Squadron (1 Brigade)
- 108 Signal Squadron (4 Brigade)
- 109 Signal Squadron (13 Brigade)
- 110 Signal Squadron (LFHQ)
- 126 Signal Squadron (4RAR[Cdo])
- 130 Signal Squadron (Logistic Support Force)
- 139 Signal Squadron (7 Brigade)
- 141 Signal Squadron (11 Brigade)
- 142 Signal Squadron (5 Brigade)
- 144 Signal Squadron (9 Brigade)
- 145 Signal Squadron (Logistic Support Force)
- 152 Signal Squadron (SASR)
- 155 Signal Squadron (8 Brigade)
- 301 Signal Squadron (1CdoRegt)
As part of a reorganisation, signals units are being amalgamated with military police and HQ units into Combat Support Regiments, assigned to specific brigades.
Australian Army Aviation consists of 16 Brigade (Aviation) which contains two regiments:
- 1 Aviation Regiment - Battlefield Support and Reconnaissance
- 5 Aviation Regiment - Tactical Assault and Air Mobility
With the regular army are a number of corps that make up the 'services':
- Incident Response Regiment
- Australian Army Intelligence Corps
- Royal Australian Corps of Transport
- Australian Army Catering Corps
- Royal Australian Army Medical Corps
- Australian Army Psychology Corps
- Royal Australian Army Nursing Corps
- Royal Australian Army Dental Corps
- Royal Australian Army Ordnance Corps
- Royal Australian Electrical and Mechanical Engineers
- Royal Australian Corps of Military Police
- Royal Australian Army Pay Corps
- Australian Army Legal Corps
- Royal Australian Army Education Corps
- Royal Australian Army Chaplains Department
- Australian Army Public Relations Service
The Federation Guard is a tri-service unit that provides ceremonial guards and gun salutes.
Units of the Army Reserve
- 1st/15th Royal New South Wales Lancers
- 2nd/14th Light Horse Regiment (Queensland Mounted Infantry)
- 3rd/9th South Australia Mounted Rifles
- 4th/19th Prince of Wales' Light Horse
- 10th Light Horse
- 12th/16th Hunter River Lancers
- Royal New South Wales Regiment
- 1st/19th Battalion
- 2nd/17th Battalion
- 4th/3rd Battalion
- 41st Battalion
- Royal Queensland Regiment
- 9th Battalion
- 25th/49th Battalion
- 31st Battalion
- 42nd Battalion
- Royal South Australia Regiment
- 10th/27th Battalion
- Royal Tasmania Regiment
- 12th/40th Battalion
- Royal Victoria Regiment
- 5th/6th Battalion
- 8th/7th Battalion
- Royal Western Australia Regiment
- 11th/28th Battalion
- 16th Battalion
- 1st Commando Regiment
- 2/10 Medium Regiment - M198 Howitzer, L119 Light Gun
- 3 Field Regiment - M2A2 Field Gun
- 6/13 Field Regiment - M2A2 Field Gun
- 7 Field Regiment - L119 Light Gun
- 23 Field Regiment - L119 Light Gun
- 4 Combat Engineer Regiment
- 5 Combat Engineer Regiment
- 8 Combat Engineer Regiment
- 9 Combat Engineer Regiment
- 11 Comabt Engineer Regiment
- 13 Combat Engineer Regiment
- 21 Construction Regiment
- 22 Construction Regiment
Articles on conflicts and wars involving Australia
- Boer War
- World War I
- World War II
- Malayan Emergency
- Korean war
- Indonesian Confrontation
- Vietnam war
- Gulf War
- U.S. invasion of Afghanistan
- 2003 invasion of Iraq
Articles on Australian Army units
- Australian Citizens Military Force/Australian Army Reserve (1901– )
- Australian Imperial Forces
- First Australian Imperial Force (1914–19)
- Second Australian Imperial Force (1939–46)
- Regular army units (1947– )
- Royal Australian Regiment
- Special Air Service Regiment
- Pilbara Regiment
- Far North Queensland Regiment
- 1st Armoured Regiment
- 2nd Cavalry Regiment
- 3rd/4th Cavalry Regiment
- Australia's Federation Guard
- Pacific Islands Regiment (1944-1975)
- Papua New Guinea Volunteer Rifles (1951-1973)
- Australian Army Training Team Vietnam (1962-1972)
Articles on Conscription and National Service
- Website: http://www.army.gov.au
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