The high light of this years Nek Commemoration was a visit to Puckapunyal where the Regiment was training. Following a substantial lunch at the RAAC Officers Mess we were bussed to the unit HQ on the Range. A briefing, then an introduction to the Bushmaster Protected Mobility Vehicle (PMV) and a drive round the range.
Driving technique developed in Afghanistan where following in the tracks of the vehicle in front is the best way to avoid mines does not translate well to the wet spongy soil of Pucka. The downside was we were bogged, but the upside was a recovery demonstration. Unfortunately, the visit to the cavalry scouts practising tracking was abandoned when the heavens opened and rain and hail bucketed down.
The Bushmaster is an Australian-built four wheeled, all-wheel drive armoured vehicle. In addition to the Australian Army it is in service with the Japan Ground Self Defence Force, Fiji Infantry Regiment, Jamaica Defence Force and the New Zealand Army. It is the first armoured vehicle to be designed and completely manufactured in Australia since the Sentinel tank during World War II.
The Bushmaster is fitted with a forward gun ring for a 5.56mm or 7.62mm machine gun. The vehicle's armour provides protection against small arms fire, mortar fragments, Claymore mines, but most importantly it provides excellent protection against land mines. The v-hull monocoque deflects the blast away from the vehicle and its occupants.
The role of the Bushmaster is to provide protected mobility transport for infantry, or in the case of 4/19 PWLH, cavalry scouts. It is not an armoured personal carrier designed to carry infantry to a dismount point just short of, or on the objective.
Currently 4/19 PWLH has 17 Bushmasters and this number will increase leading up to next year when the Regiment will provide the Cav Scout capability to 1st Armoured Regiment at Exercise ‘Talisman Sabre’, the bi-annual joint exercise with USA and NZ units.