Facilities project for Army squadron approved

Soldiers assist the Canteen Creek community deliver bed frames to residents during the Army Aboriginal Community Assistance Program in Sept. 2014

The relocation of the Army’s 17th Construction Squadron to RAAF Base Amberley is now assured with parliamentary approval of a $71.8 million facilities project, which includes new working accommodation, vehicle shelters, quartermaster stores and workshops, as well as a new Fire Training Area for the RAAF Fire Services.

Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Defence, Darren Chester, said “The new facilities will provide a consolidated Engineer Support Regiment with modern and fit-for-purpose facilities to work, operate, maintain and support the Army’s efforts, both in war time and peace.

“Relocating the 17th Construction Squadron to RAAF Base Amberley will provide enhanced operational and training effectiveness, increase deployment readiness, and reduce travel and transportation times. It will also enhance command and control arrangements.”

The investment will bring economic benefits for local industry in Ipswich, Queensland, over the next two years. Construction is expected to begin in late 2015 and be completed by late 2016.

About 140 Australian Army personnel and their families will relocate from their present home at Holsworthy Barracks west of Sydney.

The move enables the construction squadron to be colocated with its parent unit, the 6th Engineer Support Regiment, as is the case with its sister squadron, the 21st Construction Squadron.

The increased presence of Australian Army units at RAAF Amberley adds to its value as one of the largest and most influential bases in Australia.

With Amberley already home to the C-17A Globemaster III fleet and the KC-30A Multi Role Tanker Transport Fleet – to be joined next year by the C-27 Spartan tactical airlifter – the relocation of Australian Army units to the base is part of Defence’s long term plan to move air support capability north.

The 17th Construction Squadron is an Australian Army unit consisting of personnel drawn mainly from the Royal Australian Engineers. Originally formed in 1949, personnel from the squadron have deployed on operations during the Vietnam War and the ongoing War in Afghanistan; they have also participated in peacekeeping operations in Namibia and East Timor. The squadron is regularly involved in the Army Aboriginal Community Assistance Program and has also been called upon to provide assistance to the wider Australian community following natural disasters, including most recently in the wake of the 2010–2011 Queensland floods.