ALICE SPRINGS NT:
Just out of Alice Springs the highways heading straight north for Katherine from Darwin has a small turn off to the left, the road which rapidly becomes a secondary dirt road is the national short cut to Broome or the Kimberly, the Tanami highway run for approximately 800 kilometres before striking the national highway number one, running across the top end of Australia through the Kimberley’s from Darwin to the north west coast of Western Australia, through towns such as Broome and Port headland, before meandering down the Western Australian coast towards Perth.
The trip. From Alice Springs to the coastal town of Broome is 1697 kilometres, via the railway line recently completed its 2107 kilometres of fast train track. The twin track was the sitting Prime Ministers Nation building project, or one stage of it, the second stage of track which runs from Alice springs east across NSW is still under construction and in danger of not being completed. The total budget for the two lines, stretching and thus connecting the east coast of Australia with the West coast of Australia is slated to cost the Australian tax payer $85 billion dollars. The first stage, which the second will be the same as is a twin line , fast rail system for high speed diesel trains, capable of speeds up to 200km per hour, although as was pointed out and tested, the daylight speed is 200 kmph and the night speed is much slower due to large animals such as cattle, kangaroo’s and as one train discovered, the odd camel.
The lines were even more unique than those in operation by either Japan or Europe in so far as them having loop siding on both tracks allowing for closure of one track and two way train traffic still being able to operate on the remaining track. The utility also allowed for the operation of heavy loco haulage, the larger units stopping at the loop sidings to allow the Fast train services to flash past with their personnel on board and many tourists, fresh fruit or whatever other time critical produce might be required on the 200 kilometre per hour postal service.
The central hub for the Fats line east west project was Alice Springs, it being the natural central point already exiting for road transport from the northern tip of Australia to the southern states and it was here that the primary Military transfer depots, fuel and other Logistical units set up there permanent transitory bases.
The sprawling military complex on the western side of Alice covered some 400 hectares, train lines, pol facilities and vehicle hard stand areas were systematically dispersed about the base and constrained within its massive chainmesh and razor wire fence, capped off with state of the art motion detection systems and animal dispersion measures.
ADF Base Log Centre Alice springs West
The base was vast, as far as the eyes could see there were railway cars, some fully loaded with palletised gear, some with armoured vehicles, tanks, and APC’s and tracked SAM units. Others covered in tarpaulins with odd shaped equipment underneath, to the casual observer they would have no idea, but the trained eye would have established they were artillery pieces. And then there were the vast stacks of shipping containers, some in desert camouflage patterns, some in mottled green others in olive drab and yet more still colour in the vast array used by the worlds shipping companies.
Whilst all this collection was coming and going at slow intervals, the random clunking noises would on regular occasion be punctuated by the high pitched shrill of the numerous passenger Very fast trainings blitzing through on the 200 km/ph plus journeys, the odd one showing very prominent signs of having impacted with the local wild life at some point all over the frontal nose. At the facilities last platform two Australian military officers, distinguishable by their auscam pattern uniform stood rock steady as the passenger express Fats train speed past them, wind clearly rocking them as the carriages spanned by one after the other. The train’s last carriage speed by before the senior Officer looked at his opposite number, clearly his mind focusing as the last vestiges of noise and wind subsided.
Lt Colonel Mike Sinclair, commanding Officer of 2 commando company, stood motionless, clearly gathering his thoughts before turning to the Regimental Sergeant Major standing beside him, The RSM for 2 Commando, Warrant Officer John Hildebrandt, 6 foot 3 and 120 kilograms and at age 52 Boom Boom as he was know about the regiment was an impressively imposing sight. Physically and vocally adept at scaring the living begeebers out of NCO’s, diggers and junior officers alike, the RSM stood still waiting on the Colonel to speak as he knew he was deep in thought.
“John” the Colonel said, using the RSM’s fist name as he had habit to do when they were alone, “how’s the speeder troop coming along, I’ve not heard much about the integration of the sleds of recent?” he enquired whilst looking over the rail yard, now clearly exposed to their front as the fast train carriages no longer blocked the view.
The RSM had been waiting for the last couple of days to see who would enquire about F Troop as they were internally being referred to, the RSM turned slightly toward the Colonel, “Sir “ he said, before the Colonel waved a hand at him clearly indicating the Sir bit was not needed and for about the millionth time,
“ Leave the mickey mouse out Sarnt Major, Whats the scoop please straight up? “He said.
“ well John Mike would you like me to start” Said the RSM, and Before the Colonel could get a word in the RSM ploughed on.
“ It Seems Mike that our intrepid fellows in the newly created F troop “ he said, and the Colonel instantly smiling at his reference to the small units designation, the lettering of which had clearly generated much discussion and banter at higher head quarters over who in the F Troop would play each part in the T V series, the Colonel let the RSM continue.
“ The NCO’s, Digs and the junior officers are taking to them like ducks to water, probably more like the ability to drink beer I would suggest John, but from what I’ve seen when I was out with them lst week, it’s a scary capability we are developing…….” The RSM paused for a bit to see if the Colonel wanted to say anything of take up the conversation, seeing no comments were coming forth he continued on.
“ I watched a section attack with the speeders, they were two me up per unit as you know” his hands displaying the set up of man up and man facing forward, “And they attacked over three dunes, those new 4 stroke engines and the suppressors we had fitted mean the bastard thing are on you before you can hear them” and to emphasis the point the RSM was pointing out distance to some nearby containers, “ Mike I watched one approach and I shirt you not, it was 20m away before I knew it was there, then you have the from mounted hardware and armour plate, the smoke canisters they have fitted and Christ knows who came up with that idea, but its brilliant. They Have infrared driving lights for the PNVG gear and rear mounted GPMG or minimi and some units actually tow equipment sleds behind as well with extra ammo an supplies, the sleds also double up as casevac units too” he said as he tapped the arm of the Colonel.
The Colonel was clearly impressed and more so that it seemed the RSM was really getting into the conversation, there had been doubts about the regiment on just how the RSM might react to the new troop and also to the new order of battle, their RSM was known to be fairly regimented at times as many had discovered the hard way.
As if almost by divine intervention, they were both still looking across the container yard as a camouflaged G wagon merc 4wd pulled up with a trailer on behind it, attached to which was a tan and green snow mobile, somewhat out of place, 30 minutes north west of Alice Springs.
Both the Colonel and the RSM watched as the G wagon crunched to a halt and twp of its occupants bailed out from each side and walked back towards the trailer,
“ Looks like a live specimen here John” the RSM called as he bent down and hopped off the platform onto the tracks, the looking straight up down the train line as he remembered the red smear all over the front of the fast train that had recently blew past them. Satisfied that he was not about to be collected and realising it was really too late, he looked back at the Colonel.
“ coming John, we might as well as those troopers over there” his armed extended and pointing at the G wagon, “ what they think, fist hand’
The Colonel kept looking at the troopers now unhooking the trailer, then stole a glance down the train line to make sure no trainings were coming before bending down to get off the platform “ Jesus” he said, “ I’me getting to old for this shit as he hopped off the platform and strode with the RSM over to the troopers who had very clearly now worked out they had visitors coming…….important visitors.
“Stand Fast” Called the junior NCO a corporal, the other two diggers stiffening at the rear of the wagon, the third occupant having clearly been told that company was about to descent upon them and it might well be best if he was not sitting on his arse in the car when the C O and RSM arrived for a chat.
“ As you were” Called the Colonel, they three intrepid travellers relaxing somewhat , but clearly still on a heightened alert level given the company they were currently keeping.
“ Gents, the RSM and I have been discussion you lot and your new found toys and were wondering about something when luck would have it, you materialised in front of us so we thought we might take the opportunity to have a look at the new kit and ask you a few questions.”
The Colonel looked across at his RSM who was showing no signs of emotion as he stared benignly at the three soldiers. “ Good thought Jim, I need these lads to give us their honest thoughts.
“ what’s your thoughts Sarnt Major” he asked, leading in the RSM to the conversation and hopping he was picking up on the light tone.
“ Well sir I think they are right bloody quick and I must say, not what I had expected. Given what I have seen Sir, they are pretty formidable, the lads have done well and so have the engineers” said the RSM, now standing beside the snow and sand mobile.
The RSM was sitting on the snow mobile, which now being an offensive combat weapon for desert operations and extensively modified had taken on a sinister look. The sporting and recreational world had been swapping out key elements of the snow mobiles to allow their operation in the sandy environment, it had taken a letter from a very adept trooper to the CO of 2 Commando and things had snow balled from there.
The units that the RSM and the Lt Colonel were currently checking over were for all intents and purposes the 3rd generation of the scorpions as the ADF lads had taken to calling them. The ADF scorpions were 900cc 4 stroke units with a special induction kit and muffler silencing system. The ADF’s choice of the 4 stroke was its ability to operate in hotter extremes, with less water and also less noise. Quieting down the slightly larger 1000cc two stroke cousin had created massive power loss, and when it was to to exit dodge under fire….you want all the fkn power ya can have” had exclaimed one testing trooper.
The engineers had listened to the wish list of the troopers when the first demo models were sent back to the US manufacturer in a slightly used and not so shinny condition. Attached to the front of each bike was as one manufacturers engineer described” That’s a fkn big list” attached there. And so the engineers stated to work on a prototype.
If the Army test team had been able to eaves drop on the engineering meetings of the snow mobile manufacturers, the engineers, after an initial inspection of the returned trial machines had taken the attached lists and married them up with those that had been emailed across to them from the OZTRALIANS as the team pronounced it, mind you, the engineers later after inspection of the machines in details had used a lot more unsavoury and descriptive terms. One young engineer had called the ossies “Fucking feral” and gone on to deliver a string of further expletives as had proceeded to find more broken parts on the machines the deeper he dug.
It was revealed that the Australian test teams had given the units a serious work out, items that would typically show wear after years of use, had in the period of three months shown greater wear, others that the engineers had never seen broken were mangled beyond all belief. One technician had called in the senior program engineer and held out to him in the tweezers what looked like red and grey animal fur, not being sure exactly what the material was the senior program engineer hesitated before grabbing a plastic bag and taking the furry sample from the Tech.
“What the fuck is this and where in the hell did you find it” he enquired. The technician had already thought this through and was prepared for the senior engineer’s enquirery, after waving for the manager to follow they stopped at a snow mobile that had already had the front removed and sat to the side. The Senior programmed looked at it or what once looked like the front nose cone of a 15 thousand dollar snow mobile, the fur on it, of which he was now sure that’s what it was as the other streaks looked like blood.
Looking back from the mangled and bloodied nose cone with the serious internal bulge, he could see that the front section comprising of the motor, wind shield and intake system was flat. The whole thing having been impacted by an object of large weight and at some velocity.
“All right Bret” the chief engineer spoke to the tech, “ whats ya best guess, and how in the hell do we stop this sort of thing happening again, because sure as shit no warranty system will cover this type of impact”.
Bret had noticed how wide the Seniors engineers eyes had become and had nothing short of the largest smile on his face as the proceeded to reveal from behind his back a GOPRO camera which also looked like it had blood smeared over it.
Holding out the newly tinted GOPRO Bret spoke “well Chief, I have a very sneaky suspicion that the actual cause of this here incident “ as he pointed to the destroyed and bloody parts, “ Will be revealed by this camera which somebody left for us”.