Thursday, December 24, 2009

Australian M113A1 APCs Conduct Final Operational Patrol in East Timor

M113A1 Armored Personnel Carriers (APCs) have a long and proud history in the Australian Army since they were first introduced in 1965. After nearly 45 years of service to the nation, three M113A1’s, one of which saw service in Vietnam, had their last street patrol in East Timor before being cleaned in preparation for shipping back to Australia.

Three Black Hawk S70’s, also on operational deployment in East Timor, over-flew the APCs as they turned and headed back to base.“This is a big milestone for the 1st Armored Regiment to see the last M113A1s on an operation,” Troop Leader, LT Nathan Scott said. “The end of forty years of proud history.”

Driving LT Scott’s vehicle, Lance Corporal (LCPL) Zachery Williams, who at 21 years of age was born 23 years after the APCs came into service with the Australian Army, praised the simplicity of the M113A1.“Part of the reason the vehicle has been so successful is its simple design,” LCPL Williams said, speaking from experience as a certified driver, loader and gunner on the Abrams M1A1 AIM tanks.

“The M113 is easy to maintain and keep running”. LCPL Williams said.“It is also straight forward to upgrade, and there have been many variations of the vehicles since its introduction in the 1960s.”The M113A1s have been an important part of Australia’s mission in East Timor since they were first used to secure the Dili area when INTERFET inserted in 1999.

Since 2006 the APCs have been used to carry the Quick Response Force (QRF), made up of Australian and New Zealand infantry who were dispatched to deal with any outbreaks of civil unrest in the capital. With the improved security situation in East Timor, the New Zealand Queen Alexandra Mounted Rifles will now transport the QRF in Pinzgauer armored light operational vehicles.

LT Scott said his troops have worked closely with the Kiwis to ensure that they could pick up where the M113A1s left off and the camaraderie between the armoured personnel has been high. “With there being an ANZAC Battle group here in East Timor, I think it was great this morning to have a New Zealand troop sergeant out here on the last M113A1 operational patrol. It embodies the ANZAC spirit.”

The six M113A1s that have been in service in East Timor arrived with the International Stabilisation Force following the outbreak of violence in East Timor in 2006.After they return to Australia the vehicles will be converted into M113AS4s.


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