Incident Response Regiment (Australia)


Incident Response Regiment (Australia)

Infobox Military Unit
unit_name=Incident Response Regiment


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dates=2002–current
country=Australia
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branch=Australian Army
type=Engineer
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command_structure=Special Operations Command
garrison=Holsworthy Barracks
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The Incident Response Regiment (IRR) is an Australian regiment part of the Special Operations Command. Its mission is to provide specialist response to incidents involving chemical, biological and radiological (CBR) and/or explosive hazards, including other hazardous material and situations including fire. As well as forming part of Australia's counter-terrorism capability, the IRR used to provide emergency response and rescue support to Australian Army bases and field exercises however this role has fallen to the wayside.

The IRR consists of about 300 military and civilian personnel (including Army reservists) and includes intelligence, signals, medical, nursing, ordnance, transport, electrical and mechanical engineers, scientists and catering officers. The regiment is defensive and protective by design and has no offensive capability. Like personnel of 171 Aviation Squadron, members of the IRR do not have to pass through special forces entry tests to join the unit, but an in-house test has been developed.

Role

The IRR is able to respond to chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear or explosive incidents both domestically and in support of Australian forces deployed overseas in high threat environments.

These could include:

* A threat which may also be a hoax
* An overt incident with immediate effects that is more likely to be a chemical or radiological incident, or
* A covert attack where the event is not known until affected victims begin reporting to medical facilities (this is more likely to be a biological attack)

IRR personnel are able to conduct high risk searches with detection equipment and dogs, disarm and dispose of a device, decontaminate and treat victims and the exposed area and analyse the hazardous material on site. They used to be able to assist State and Territory authorities to respond to emergencies with fire fighting, aircraft and vehicle crash rescue and urban search and rescue expertise however this capability has been lost due to the disbandment of the Emergency Response Squadron, leading to high discharge rates, a lack of direction and in particular obsolete equipment.

As a rapid response organisation, elements of the regiment are maintained on short notices to move to incident sites at all times.

History

The Incident Response Regiment can trace its history to the Army Fire Service and a number of specialist Royal Australian Engineer organisations. The Emergency Response Squadron was initially formed in 1999 from the existing Army Fire Service in response to the 1996 Blackhawk Helicopter disaster in the Townsville High Range training area. The Chemical, Biological and Radiological Response Squadron was formed in 1998 by expanding the existing Chemical Radiological Response Team.

The Incident Response Regiment is based on the Joint Incident Response Unit (JIRU) which was established in 2000 as part of the Australian Defence Force's security arrangements for the Sydney Olympic Games. The JIRU incorporated the Chemical, Biological and Radiological Response Squadron and also included a High Risk Search Squadron. When the JIRU was disbanded in March 2001 the Chemical, Biological and Radiological Response Squadron was retained as an independent squadron.

Following the September 11 terrorist attacks the Chemical, Biological and Radiological Response Squadron was incorporated into the newly established Incident Response Unit (IRU). The IRU was expanded and redesignated to form the Incident Response Regiment in May 2002. This expansion involved the Emergency Response Squadron joining the Regiment then was promptly disbanded in 2006, and the formation of a specialist Scientific and Technical Support Organisation (which is staffed by civilian and military scientists).

The IRR provided a composite troop (designated 'D Troop') to the Australian contribution to the 2003 invasion of Iraq. This troop formed part of the Special Forces Task Group and is reported to have operated with the Australian Special Air Service Regiment within Iraq. IRR personnel have also formed part of subsequent Australian Special Forces deployments, including the current deployment to Afghanistan.

Organisation

Incident Response Regiment
* Regimental Headquarters (Located in Sydney, NSW).
* Chemical, Biological and Radiological Response Squadron (Sydney, NSW).
* Emergency Response Squadron(Disbanded and absorbed into IRR 2006) (detachments in Sydney, Townsville, Darwin, and Oakey).
* Scientific and Technical Organisation/Cell (Sydney, NSW).

References

* Australian Army Newspaper, September 11 2002, [http://www.defence.gov.au/news/armynews/editions/1059/topstories/story01.htm Tagged for action]
* Australian Department of Defence, [http://www.defence.gov.au/opfalconer/factsheets/irr.htm Operation Falconer Fact Sheet on the IRR]
* Australian Department of Defence, [http://www.defence.gov.au/publications/lessons.pdf The War in Iraq - ADF Operations in the Middle East in 2003]
* The Australian Journal of Emergency Management, Vol. 20 No. 2, May 2005 [http://www.ema.gov.au/agd/EMA/rwpattach.nsf/VAP/(383B7EDC29CDE21FBA276BBBCE12CDC0)~AJEMMay03-Incident.pdf/$file/AJEMMay03-Incident.pdf The Incident Response Regiment]


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