University of New South Wales Regiment Association
Our AGM and Christmas Luncheon was held on 2 December 2016. We were privileged to have the outgoing Commanding Officer address the gathering. He gave a comprehensive account of his time in command. Association members expressed sadness at the loss of the Regimental Band, and at the convoluted outsourced recruitment process where prospective recruits can wait months to find out if they have been accepted. Hardly a worthwhile process as most lose interest while waiting.
At the centenary commemorations for the Battles of Fromelles and Pozieres in July 2016, there was quite an UNSWR reunion. Graham Fleeton, John Hitchen, Don Shearman and John Howells were there as tour guides; Ian Cameron as a Piper; and Mark Francis on tour with his family.
A great AGM and Christmas luncheon attended by the Regimental Sergeant Major and Commanding Officer.
Presentation by Sandy MacGregor to the
173rd Infantry Brigade Combat Team (Airborne)
based in Vicenza, Italy 28 July to 3 August 2014
Colonel (retired) Sandy MacGregor was invited to attend as a DV (Distinguished Visitor) to address 173rd Infantry Brigade Combat Team (Airborne) based in Italy, in their Bayonet Week of celebrations. In Vietnam in 1965/66 this unit was known as 173rd Airborne Brigade and had, under command, 1 Royal Australian Regiment Group (1 RAR Gp). Sandy, as a Captain, commanded 3 Field Troop, Royal Australian Engineers and was in support of 1 RAR Gp. Thus at different times throughout the tour Sandy was under direct command of 173rd Airborne Brigade.
In March 2009 Lt Col Rupert Hoskin, Commander of 3 Combat Engineer Regiment (3 CER), was conducting a mental toughness and leadership exercise called “Plan Shackleton” in the Tully Training Area North of Townsville for his soldiers about to embark for Afghanistan. Lt Col Hoskin invited Colonel (retired) Sandy MacGregor to address his soldiers on Mental Toughness at the immediate conclusion of the exercise.
The soldiers had endured hardships of lack of food, little sleep, strenuous exercise and were wet and uncomfortable over the 5 day exercise. Lt Col Hoskin was aware of Sandy MacGregor’s personal experiences of using his mental powers to assist him in overcoming tragedy, and his current public work with the subconscious mind. The immediate challenge for Sandy was to keep the soldiers awake for 2 hours.
Maj Aaron Cox was a US exchange Officer attached to 3 CER and was the Executive Officer (XO) of 3 CER. He attended the presentation titled "Mental Toughness" delivered by Sandy. Subsequently Maj Cox was posted as XO of the Special Troops Battalion of 173rd Infantry Brigade Combat Team (Airborne) based in Italy.
US Army Training Directive
As part of its current directive to US Army units, emphasis is to be placed on the "Ready and Resilient Campaign". The www.army.mil website states "Individual resilience can be built, maintained, and strengthened when viewed as an enduring concept and acquired through regular training" and it says that resilience is "The mental, physical, emotional, and behavioural ability to face and cope with adversity, adapt to change, recover, learn and grow from setbacks."
Part of the Commander of 173rd Brigade Training Policy includes –
- Total Soldier Fitness:
- And this contributes to the Army "Ready and Resilient Campaign".
Major Cox took the action of raising the topic of Sandy MacGregor giving several 2 hour presentations to the 173rd Brigade, similar to the one he heard delivered to 3 CER at Tully in 2009, as part of the Ready and Resilient Campaign and in particular the Mental aspect of Total Soldier Fitness. The Commander, Colonel Foster gave his permission and requested that Sandy also give the Brigade Ball Address for 30 minutes, focussing on:
- Sandy’s link to 173rd Brigade
- Some of his experiences in Vietnam.
- What it means to be resilient, and thoughts on moving forward to cope with tough times.
Timings and Program of Presentations
The timing was set down as the 173rd Brigades Bayonet week being a week of celebration and competition, culminating in the Brigade Ball on Friday 1 August 2014. (About 350 participants).
The program of Presentation:
Monday 28 July: 11:00 – 12:30
Tuesday 29 July: 10:00 – 12:00
Wednesday 30 July: 10:00 – 12:00
Friday 1 August: 17:00 - 24:00 Brigade Ball – Address for 30 min
Saturday 2 August: Drive to Poland – Drawsko Military Base – through Austria and Germany
Sunday 3 August: 09:30 – 11:30 – Presentation to Sappers and Infantry Company.
All presentations went according to plan, gifts were exchanged and Sandy MacGregor states that the whole experience is one to be remembered as an honoured highlight of his life.
Links to Detail
Another great luncheon at the Royal Automobile Club
Friday 6 December 2013 saw those who served in the Regiment gather for another function to renew friendships, discuss past times and ponder the Regiment’s future.
Many of us have read accounts of what has been happening within the Regiment over the last few years with both alarm and sadness. First the Regiment lost its task of providing military training to undergraduates; it was required to focus on operating as an officer factory. Now it has lost the officer training role, and is required to provide soldier level training across Reserve Army units in NSW. A task incompatible with the university integration that saw high social achievers gain the training and experience that would enable a well led military force should it need to be expanded exponentially to meet a serious threat.
The situation was eloquently explained by Brigadier Max Willis RFD ED (Retd) in a speech that was very well received.
Colonel Sandy MacGreggor MC, the Regiment’s Honorary Colonel gave another erudite dissertation on the topic, focussing on the fluid situation with respect to the Honorary Colonel’s position.
All present expressed concern at the lack of any comprehensible rationale behind the changes.
It would appear that any research that produced recommendations of this nature was flawed, and implementation was without an understanding of what was being destroyed.
Colonel Graham Fleeton RFD (Retd) extolled members to join the Defence Reserves Association to help with the fight to retain UNSWR as a worthwhile contributor to the defence of the Nation.