Strengthening the intellectual foundation for our profession of arms.

Exchange Programme Long Look

April 20th, 2016 by Scott Atkinson

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I was privileged to be selected to attend Exchange Programme Long Look (LL) in 2015. LL is an incredible professional development opportunity for junior officers and NCOs. Each LL experience will be different and processes may vary, but here are my thoughts about the programme for fellow Subbies who may be interested.

General outline

LL is a reciprocal exchange between the ADF and the UK Armed Forces. The four-six month exchange promotes continued cooperation between the UK and AS through exposure to different procedures, equipment, personnel and culture. Junior officers and NCOs are selected in order to broaden military experience and professional knowledge. For my LL, I was privileged to be attached to the 3 Commando Brigade.

Benefits

I found that the benefits of LL include:

  • Professional development opportunities
  • Individual military knowledge and experiences
  • Camaraderie
  • Working knowledge of host unit operational, logistic and administrative procedures
  • Establishing and maintaining regimental affiliations with UK forces

Frequently asked questions

What do I actually get to do? You get the opportunity to integrate and network with a foreign defence force. What this actually entails is up to your host unit chain-of-command. The programme offers the opportunity to integrate with the host unit in barracks and field exercises as well as the ability to complete courses. From an engineering perspective, LL provided me the opportunity to:

  • Complete UK Commando mountain training in the Welsh Snowdonia Alps
  • Network with 20 plus junior officers while completing the UK Battle Captains Course
  • Integrate with the Amphibious Battle Group staff planning team in the Mediterranean Sea
  • Integrate for staff planning simulations

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What is the general day to day activity? The barracks and field environments were very similar to Australia. Within barracks, PT was never missed and ran from Tue – Fri with sports on Wed afternoons. Conferences were completed Monday afternoons and mornos was attended daily. All preparation for future exercises was conducted within the remaining time.

What is the accommodation like? I was accommodated within the mess facilities. The British have a big mess culture as all ranks live-on or on the patch.

What happens on the weekend? Most garrisons are ghost towns come Friday lunch onwards. As all ranks live-on throughout the week, they all head to family/partners on the weekends. Plan your weekends. You can get a lot jammed in with everything so close. Flights to the rest of the UK and Europe are cheap and easy to achieve provided approval is given from the chain-of-command. Monday is generally a late start for most units to accommodate everyone’s return.

Terminology. You will find the British and ADF have very similar military terminology and methodology. Although, both military forces have their own unique terms that have developed over the years. Some terms you will hear often are:

  • Hoofing – awesome/good/great
  • Howling – terrible
  • Websters – as above
  • Gen – are you serious
  • Wet – brew
  • Tam – vui tui equivalent
  • Bergin – field pack
  • Bootneck – marine
  • Phys – PT
  • Stripy – Sergeant
  • Full Screw – Corporal
  • Poncho – hootchie equivalent

What kit do I need? This varies based on your unit’s field training that they have lined up for you. For me, this varied from a Mediterranean amphibious environment to the mountains of Wales/Scotland. Ensure your kit is waterproofed!

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Application Process

Importantly, the process is through your chain-of-command and with their recommendation/endorsement. LL is open to all corps and was initiated for me through a request for nomination provided to the unit’s chain-of-command. The chain-of-command provides nominations based on current performance, potential for professional development, and your Commanding Officer’s assessment on suitability for an international representation opportunity. Nominations are usually requested in the year preceding the exchange. Check with your boss as the process may slightly change from year-to-year.

Practicalities

Exchange personnel:

  • Remain posted to their Parent Unit for the duration of the exchange.
  • Will be paid allowances for the duration of the exchange prior to departure. These allowances negate the entitlement to any additional field and sea going allowances whilst conducting the exchange.
  • May be able to attend UK military courses, subject to the approval of the parent unit and host nation. All courses must be completed within the time allocated for the exchange.
  • Are required to submit a Post Activity Report no later than two weeks prior to returning to Australia.

Key recommendations 

  • Liaise early with your chain-of-command to identify what exercises are being conducted and what skills you want to gain from LL. Don’t be afraid to be bold.
  • Most units are located in isolated areas of the UK. Public transport is available, however, costly. Hire cars are a good option particularly if you split the cost with another ADF member on exchange. The Australian Drivers Licence is valid for 12 months in the UK.
  • Transport to other units is feasible using hire cars and unit vehicles. The only requirement is a short online test/questionnaire on common sense road rules.
  • Accommodation within units throughout the UK is available. This includes in the centre of London and Edinburgh.
  • Be prepared to be cold. Request the winter clothing issue if you are likely to be exposed to field training. This is a must in order to wear in any gortex boots.
  • Utilise your trunk for equipment wisely – ensure you have enough uniforms to conduct your job in the event of your trunk not arriving/being delayed.
  • Take plenty of ANF patches.

Overall, LL was an excellent experience. I recommend if you are selected to contact a previous LL participant to find out the hints and tips for your time in the UK.


Scott Atkinson is a Civil Engineer in the Australian Army. His area of interests are technical engineering and amphibious engineer operations. In 2015, he completed the Exchange Program Long Look with 3 Commando Brigade in the United Kingdom.

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