Squadron set to march into town in $77m plan

IPSWICH HQ: Officer Commanding 17th Construction Squadron, 6th Engineer Support Regiment Major Henry Stimson, leads the squadron on parade.
IPSWICH HQ: Officer Commanding 17th Construction Squadron, 6th Engineer Support Regiment Major Henry Stimson, leads the squadron on parade. Contributed

THE army presence at RAAF Base Amberley is set to grow with plans for another squadron to be relocated to Ipswich under a $77 million project.

A defence spokeswoman confirmed yesterday that 17th Construction Squadron would be relocated from Holsworthy Barracks in Sydney to RAAF Amberley in early 2017.

She said about 140 positions would be transferred to Amberley and construction of new facilities at the base was planned to start in the coming months, subject to parliamentary approval.

The move co-locates the 17th Construction Squadron with its parent unit, the 6th Engineer Support Regiment. The headquarters of the 6 ESR and the 21st Construction Squadron are already at Amberley.

The Department of Defence said the relocation of 17th Construction Squadron would provide opportunities to enhance the command and control of engineer units in south-east Queensland and to improve the overall operational and training effectiveness of 6 ESR.

The project being considered by the Federal Government's Public Works Committee proposes to provide both purpose built and adaptively reused facilities for 17th Construction Squadron.

Construction of the squadron headquarters offices, troop buildings, workshop and vehicle and equipment shelters is expected to be completed by late 2016. A public hearing on the project will be held at the Metro Hotel Ipswich International tomorrow at 1pm.

Mayor Paul Pisasale welcomed the $77 million investment in the city and said Defence families were a strong part of the community spirit.

"We are a defence city," Cr Pisasale said.

"We want to give a loud and clear message to the people of Australia that we are there to support RAAF Base Amberley. We are here not only to support the base but to support the families."

17 Construction Squadron was originally formed in 1949 and based at Kingsford, New South Wales. Operational achievements include the Vietnam War, Operation Slipper in Afghanistan and peacekeeping operations in Namibia and East Timor.

Squadron personnel are trained as plant operators, carpenters, plumbers and electricians.

With more than 600 regular soldiers, 6 ESR is the largest of the Royal Australian Engineer regiments.

A Defence report into the relocation notes that RAAF Base Amberley is one of the largest Defence sites in Australia and is also home to RAAF's C17 strategic airlift fleet, Army's 9th Force Support Battalion and the Joint Logistics Unit.

"As such, relocating 17 Construction Squadron to RAAF Base Amberley will also enable wider Defence gains in operational effectiveness that involve domestic and regional air and land deployments, and operational efficiencies that involve the reliance on force and national level logistics support and sustainment," the report states.

Topics:  raaf base amberley

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