Virus strikes again as Army’s largest exercise cancelled
THE deadly coronavirus pandemic has claimed another casualty - the army's largest annual exercise has been cancelled.
Exercise Hamel, the Australian Army's largest annual exercise that sees more than 10,000 military members come together, has been cancelled.
Defence has delayed all non-essential exercises and training in order to ensure soldiers are available to support government coronavirus efforts.
More than 3000 men and women of Darwin's 1st Brigade take part in the three-week exercise that ensures the 1st Brigade is the Army's Ready Brigade for the next 12 months.
During the exercise, the 1st Brigade is judged on its ability to plan, fight, respond, adjust and sustain itself in complex situations.
Resilience and physical robustness are put to the test in replicated contemporary operating environments.
The 1st Brigade bring together its assets, including tanks, artillery and sophisticated communication equipment, for the exercise and would have been supported by the wider Australian Defence Force, the US Marine Rotational Force Darwin and NZ soldiers.
The exercise was going to take place at the Townsville Field Training Area in August over four to six weeks.
A Defence spokesperson said Defence is currently reconsidering the status of all upcoming events to ensure the safety of personnel involved.
"The Australian Army will continue to plan certification and readiness requirements to ensure we are able to meet the needs of Australia in the medium and long-term," the spokesperson said.
No decision has been made about Darwin's Pitch Black exercise in July which involves 3000 personnel from 13 countries.
The Army will now review its planned training objectives for the year.
"Exercises will be rescheduled and conducted once it is safe to do so," the Defence spokesperson said.
"Until that time, support to Operation COVID-19 Assist is the highest priority.
"Defence is adjusting a range of plans and commitments as it works to contribute to the whole-of-government response to COVID-19."
Originally published as Virus strikes again as Army's largest exercise cancelled