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50 years of Royal Australian Corps of Transport

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Jordyn Grubisic
Jordyn Grubisic
Jordyn Grubisic is a senior journalist for the North Central Review primarily covering politics at all levels and sport with a particular interest in basketball. Since 2019 she has worked for several publications across Victoria including most recently at the Alexandra Standard and Yea Chronicle. She is always keen to hear from local community members about issues they face and has an interest in crime and court reporting.

The Royal Australian Corps of Transport, RACT, hosted a commemorative parade to mark its 50th anniversary at Puckapunyal, the home of the School of Transport, on Thursday.

Australian Governor-General David Hurley attended to mark the milestone.

“We celebrate 50 years of service to our nation by [RACT] corps. We also celebrate the corps’ people, the tip of the iceberg representing generations that have served before and the contributions of their families,” Mr Hurley said.

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“Fifty years ago, several thousand people gathered at Puckapunyal to mark the establishment of the RATC. It was to be a significant day in the history of the army and the Australian Defence Force.

“The upshot of that post-Vietnam reform was that the army’s capabilities were boosted. That is a credit to the army’s people and the newly-formed RATC.

“This capability has been demonstrated on every operation since that time. Members of the corps have served with distinction and honour and have played a critical enabling function for the army and the ADF in times of conflict and peace.

“I have benefited from, tasked and employed most of the corps’ capabilities during my career, always confident in the outcome.”

Soldiers march with the Royal Australian Corps of Transport Princess Royal Banner, which it received in June, 2013. ​

RATC Commanding Officer Lieutenant Colonel Phillipa Cleary said the parade featured soldiers of all ranks from across Australia.

“It was incredible to see what they turned around in three days. For many of the soldiers they were learning new manoeuvres,” she said.

“It was a bit white knuckle there for a while, but they pulled it together and have done a brilliant parade.

“We’ve asked a lot of them to come out here and do this, but now they’re a part of history, which is really exciting.”

Soldiers in the Royal Australian Corps of Transport commemorative parade had three days to prepare their drills, with many participants coming from interstate to celebrate the 50th anniversary. ​

RATC formed on June 1, 1973, with an amalgamation of elements from the Royal Australian Army Service Corps and the Royal Australian Engineers Transportation Service.

Water, road, movement, air dispatch and termites are the five trades offered, and about 3200 currently serve in the corps.

Lieutenant Colonel Cleary said the corps professionalism was what she was most proud of.

“We trust soldiers and corporals, our lowest ranking people, to go and do things independently because we trust their training and we trust their professionalism. That’s an exciting thing to be able to do,” she said.

Head of Corps and Commander of the 17th Sustainment Brigade Brigadier Natasha Ludwig said the corps had been and continued to be a vital and indispensable part of the ADF.

“This milestone is a testament to the unwavering dedication, service and commitment of the men and women who have proudly served the corps over the last 50 years,” she said.

“As the Head of Corps, it is an immense privilege and honour for me to lead such a dedicated and talented group of individuals.”

New equipment purchased over the past four years has replaced the 1980s legacy fleet.

A collection of current and decommissioned vehicles were on display for attendees to see up close. ​

Installation of cupolas was a significant change that allows soldiers to stand out of a vehicle armed with a gun for protection.

“We must change our mindset about vehicle operation. Now we are responsible for our own protection, and we need to make sure we are tactically adept and able to operate safely in an environment of threat,” Lieutenant Colonel Cleary said.

“We’re soldiers first so that tactical proficiency is what we’re really targeting now.”

Autonomous vehicle trials using leader-follower technology are also occurring at Puckapunyal.

“The truck will be manned and the trucks following will be remote controlled. You’re not putting soldiers unnecessarily in an environment of threat,” Lieutenant Colonel Cleary said.

“Technology is amazing and it’s coming. It’s really an exciting time to be in army because there’s so many capabilities coming down and we feel lucky to be a part of it.”

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