16 April 2021

Goulburn resident 'alarmed' by armed soldiers hiding in bushes

| Hannah Sparks
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Trainee soldier

A trainee soldier from the Royal Military College at Duntroon during a training exercise. Photo: Department of Defence.

It’s not every day you see armed soldiers appear from the bushes in the dark while driving home from work.

Yet that’s exactly what Kate Sneddon-Phillips saw at 6:50 pm on Hume Street in Goulburn on Wednesday, 14 April.

“I saw a group step out from the bushes – about five in uniform with what looked like machine guns in their hands,” she told Region Media.

Her response to the unusual sight was to turn to the community for answers via Facebook.

“It scared the sh*t out of me… I realise it’s probably just an exercise but it’s still a little alarming,” Ms Sneddon-Phillips wrote on the Goulburn Community Noticeboard.

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Many responded to let Ms Sneddon-Phillips know that letters had been posted to some residents saying 160 trainee soldiers from the Royal Military College at Duntroon, in Canberra, would soon be completing part of their training in Goulburn.

The letter from the college said realistic training scenarios could include shooting drills, rescuing casualties and crowd control.

Goulburn residents could also expect to see light and heavy Defence vehicles operating around the city and hear cadets practising shooting with blank-fire rounds during the three-and-a-half week exercise between 12 April and 6 May.

“You are receiving this letter because it is likely that the cadets will be located close to your home conducting operations 24 hours a day,” the letter said.

“Scenarios will be kept to the minimum between the hours of 10 pm and 6 am, however, disruption to your daily activities may occur.

“The cadets will be accompanied by experienced officers and non-commissioned officers. These individuals are responsible for the safety and conduct of the cadets.”

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However, residents living on Auburn and Broughton Streets, Braidwood Road and in Run-O-Waters said they didn’t receive letters.

Region Media understands Defence only posted letters to residents it thought would be affected by the exercises.

A spokesperson said it’s not uncommon for Defence to run training exercises in cities and towns to provide cadets within urban environments.

“As part of their training at Royal Military College Duntroon, staff cadets routinely exercise at Defence establishments around Australia, depending on the nature of the training.”

“This year, locations for training include Majura Training Area, Tin Can Bay in Queensland, and Goulburn,” the spokesperson said.

Defence had consulted with Goulburn Mulwaree Council and local police ahead of the training exercise and spread the word via local newspapers, radio, social media and letterbox drops.

There’s also a hotline for concerned residents to contact during the exercise.

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Some residents have been excited by the college’s presence and eager to see the cadets in action, with a handful even hoping to be invited to join the exercises.

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Dr Douglas Simper11:05 am 16 Apr 21

Surely Australia is big enough so that the war games can be held away from the public?

Interesting- it’s excellent they are doing these exercises and I think most people would be fully supportive of the idea but as Douglas says- is it necessary to do these exercises in the middle of the main shopping district in a busy time of day and week? Also people who haven’t received letters and of course the many who come to Goulburn regularly from surrounding areas could potentially get a shock seeing armed soldiers acting like they’re in a warzone when they turn the corner into the main street. You would expect that it would at least warrant a sign on the way in from both motorway entries so that people would know it was exercises and not a terrorist attack or similar.

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