Note: This article is part of a series. Read part one here.

One of the overarching themes I closed on in the first part of this series was that the Australian Army fails to bestow upon its members nationally recognised qualifications commensurate to their skill and experience.

I gave a firsthand example, revealing how an operator from an SF unit can be on the back side of a decade-long career with multiple operations under his belt, could have worn the rank of a team leader or platoon sergeant and been instrumental in planning large-scale offensive operations incorporating strategic assets for both platoon and company in extremely hostile environments, yet wouldn’t be recognised with much in the form of relevant and useable qualifications for his efforts.

In training, this same operator could have been responsible for planning range activities which may include, but are by no means limited to:

  • Live-fire close-quarter and urban combat in a variety of environments such as building, aircraft, and maritime
  • Explosive method of entry (EMOE) and various other breaching activities
  • Advanced driving
  • Climbing, roping, and rappelling
  • Fast-roping
  • Helicopter insertion and extraction techniques
  • Full mission profiles including one or more of these stated activities.

An enormous amount of proficiency in a variety of disciplines is required for the successful execution of special operations in training and on operations. These may include, but again are not limited to:

  • Leadership and training
  • Management
  • Security operations
  • Risk management
  • Workplace health and safety

Despite the high degree of expertise that soldiers may show in these particular fields, there isn’t much in the way of formal recognition for these skill sets. One could argue that, by the very nature of our job, we are experts in risk management, so why aren’t members accredited with something even as mediocre as a Certificate IV in security and risk management? Let me discuss this point further using two examples of courses that I undertook: the Combat First Aid (CFA) qualification and the Armed Response Protection Team (ARPT) qualification.

The CFA course aims to “qualify Army personnel from all corps of the Army to perform advanced first-aid techniques in a first-response situation.” The military learning objectives of this course as listed on the course report are a testament to the exceptionally high standard of medical training that qualified CFAs gain through the completion of this course.

In addition, soldiers who are CFA qualified are also authorized to administer drugs to patients such as morphine, methoxyflurane, adrenaline, and naloxone. The administration of drugs to patients crosses into an entirely new territory of responsibility the civilian sector reserves for the likes of emergency medical technicians (EMT), paramedics, nurses, and doctors. Similarly, CFAs across SOCOMD were exposed to live-tissue training, have spent time in the emergency room at hospitals around Sydney, and treated casualties at the Tarin Kowt Forward Surgical Element (TK FSE) with injuries ranging from severe lacerations and broken bones to gunshot wounds and traumatic amputations.