A specialist team of combat experienced soldiers, scientists and engineers are part of a new team called Diggerworks delivering new equipment to better protect Australian troops.
Minister for Defence Materiel Jason Clare said Diggerworks has been established to respond to the changing needs of soldiers in the field.
Diggerworks comprises Defence agencies responsible for developing combat solider capability and is similar to the United States Marine Corps’ Gruntworks.
It is headed by Colonel Jason Blain who commanded Mentoring Taskforce 1 in Afghanistan in 2010.
The latest example of their work is the acquisition of a new pelvic protection system to soldiers currently operating in Afghanistan.
The system includes a protective under garment to prevent fine dirt and shrapnel particles that result from explosions causing infection in any wounds sustained.
This garment is expected to be provided to Australian troops on patrol in Afghanistan from November this year.
Defence will also trial a soft armour ballistic groin protector worn over the combat uniform designed to provide increased protection against larger shrapnel.
This decision has been made based on the experience of the British Army whose soldiers have suffered an increasing number of pelvic injuries in Afghanistan.
“This system will provide another layer of protection for Australian soldiers against infection and injury in the field,” Mr Clare said.
“The work Diggerworks is doing is very important.
“It’s about soldiers who have been in Afghanistan using their experience to help soldiers in the field.
Diggerworks is also responsible for developing the new lighter combat body armour called TBAS which has just been rolled out to our troops in Afghanistan.
TBAS has been designed based on feedback from our troops in Afghanistan that the existing body armour was too heavy and made it difficult to do their jobs.
TBAS is lighter, fits better, is more comfortable and makes it easier for soldiers to get into a firing position.
“I was in Afghanistan last month and spoke to our soldiers about their new body armour,” Mr Clare said.
“The feedback I got was extremely positive.
“Soldiers told me it made it easier for them to do their job.”
Diggerworks will also work on a $20 million research project with Defence industry, the Defence Material Technology Centre, the University of Wollongong and RMIT to enhance the protective equipment worn by soldiers to combat a range of existing and evolving threats like Improvised Explosive Devices.
This is in addition to the package of initiatives worth $1.6 billion the Government committed to following the 2009 Force Protection Review.
Measures that have been delivered as part of this package include:
- Upgrading our Bushmaster vehicles to provide better protection for troops inside;
- Equipping Bushmasters with heavier calibre weapons;
- Attaching mine rollers to the front of Bushmasters to roll ahead of the vehicle to take the impact of an IED explosion;
- Purchasing new handheld mine detectors;
- Improving counter IED training here in Australia; and
- T he Counter Rocket Mortar and Artillery early warning system.
Media contact: Korena Flanagan – 02 6277 7620