Moving through the Tabs (The stages of training), toward the March Out Parade.
“Welcome to the 1st Recruit Training Battalion. Today marks the commencement of your careers in the Australian Army. Since 1951, soldiers have successfully completed recruit training here at Kapooka and they, like you, were feeling nervous, excited, and perhaps even wondering if they had made the correct decision to join the Army.”
This excerpt is part of the welcoming address all recruits receive upon arriving at the 1st Recruit Training Battalion and signifies the beginning of a routine, built on discipline and teamwork.
A typical day within barracks begins at 6:00 am and continues through to 10:00 pm. In rapid succession, new recruits are introduced to physical training, lectures, drill and weapon training under the constant guidance and mentoring of their platoon staff.
The aim of Red Tabs (Phase 1 of training) is to develop the Foundation Soldier. This phase is 15 days in duration and develops a recruit’s understanding of Army’s values, ethics, and behaviours through structured military instruction and character development training. Lesson content delivered within this phase includes: conduct drill, manage own professional performance, and Force Preservation Awareness training; as well as various entry level administrative requirements such as equipment and clothing issues and medical baselining. Training methods employed within this phase are predominately lectures, theory lessons and formal drill lessons.
Blue Tabs is broken into two stages and focusses on the individual proficiencies needed to develop the Foundation Combatant.
Stage 2A of Blue Tabs is 25 days in duration, commencing with introduction to the service rifle, the Enhanced F88 (EF88) weapon system. This begins the development of the Foundation Combatant through enhancing confidence and proficiency in handling their primary weapon.
Predominate themes within this stage are the development of good Combat Behaviours and the Combat Mindset, culminating with the successful completion of the live-fire shooting assessment (Rifle Practice 3A), completion of Army Combatives Program Level 1 (where recruits learn hand to hand fighting skills designed to equip soldiers to face an adversary in a close fight) and a visit to the Australian War Memorial. The War Memorial visit is often a moving experience for the recruits, as they realise they will soon be the custodians of the traditions of the ANZACs. A notable change is observed in the recruits at the conclusion of their visit to the Australian War Memorial, which more often than not, provides a resounding confirmation of their choice to become an Australian Soldier.
Stage 2B of Blue tabs is a further 21 days in duration; commencing with instruction on the Light Support Weapon (F89). This stage continues the development of the Foundation Combatant through the attainment of individual qualifications and proficiencies (Light Support Weapon, High Explosive Fragmentation Grenades, Army First Aid Course and Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear Defence training) in order to set the conditions for application of individual skills as part of a ‘disciplined team’.
This final phase is 22 days in duration commencing with instruction on Tactical Combat Casualty Care and an introduction to the Bayonet Assault Course. This phase develops the ‘All Corps Combatant’; confirming a Recruit’s ability to move, shoot and communicate as a member of a team.
This phase represents the field training component of the ARC and consolidates the skills, knowledge, attributes and confidence required of an Australian Soldier. This is achieved during the conduct of Exercise FOUNDATION COMBATANT, which confirms field skills and combative behaviours in a tactical field environment, to assess recruits have achieved the necessary learning outcomes required to complete their training at 1 RTB.
The culminating activity of their field phase is ‘The Challenge’, designed as an arduous progression through multiple activities which include: a weight loaded march, movement through the obstacle course, conduct of a section attack, providing life-saving medical care to a combat casualty, stretcher carry, completion of the Bayonet Assault Course and a life-fire shoot with the EF88.
The final aspect of Gold Tabs is ‘march out week’ where the recruits perfect their drill on the Battalion Parade Ground. The week is quite frenzied, as their equipment, rooms and lines require constant cleaning and inspections in anticipation for the Officer Commanding the Company’s final inspection. As ‘march out day’ arrives, the recruits put forward a visual demonstration of their dress, bearing and drill, as their families watch on during the parade. It is at this point that recruits have clearly demonstrated the attributes of an Australian soldier, and proved themselves a worthy recipient of the Rising Sun—badge of honour for all those that serve in the Australian Army.