Exercise Wallaby is an annual event in Shoalwater Bay, Central Queensland, that the Singapore Armed Forces conducts, and my unit (433rd Battalion, Singapore Armoured Regiment) had long been slated to participate in as part of its ATEC (Army Training Evaluation Centre) assessment of its battle-readiness.
Four times the size of Singapore, the training area provides enough ground for large-scale manouevers such as that expected of an armoured unit. So, you could say we were sent there to train so that we’d know how to defend Singapore by knowing how to fight in an area four times the size of Singapore.
Just like Singapore, Central Queensland in October is blazingly hot in the daytime. Just like Singapore, it has sudden thunderstorms too.
But rarely do you get 35 degree heat and sunshine for 10 minutes, then hailstones and rain for the very next, and then 35 degree heat and sunshine again for the following ten. Wet, bruised, dry, wet, bruised, dried again and again.
Such was the weather for two of the ten days out in the field, and I was sent scurrying around trying to look for shelter for most of the time, prompting platoon mates to nickname me ‘the cockroach’.
By the way, kevlar helmets work well against hail.