2nd Battalion (Amphibious), The Royal Australian Regiment is the Australian Army’s specialised amphibious unit that is responsible for conducting pre-landing force actions in support of the Australian Amphibious Force and coalition partners. The 2nd Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment (2 RAR) is based at Lavarack Barracks in Townsville. 2 RAR was first formed as the Australian 66th Battalion in 1945 and since then it has seen active service during the Korean War, Malayan Emergency and Vietnam War. In May 2006, 2 RAR’s headquarters, support company and a rifle company deployed to Iraq as part of the third rotation of the Al Muthanna Task Group. In June 2011, the battalion deployed to Urozgan Province, Afghanistan as Mentoring Task Force Three (MTF3).
Under a restructuring program known as Plan Beersheba announced in late 2011, 2 RAR will form the core of the Army’s amphibious force. This has seen 108th Battery relocate from 4th Regiment, Royal Australian Artillery to 2 RAR as a sub-unit, being the only full-time infantry battalion with its own organic artillery battery. On 15 October 2017, 2 RAR transferred from the 3rd Brigade to report directly to the headquarters of the 1st Division. The battalion will remain based at Lavarack Barracks in Townsville, and become the division’s specialist amphibious infantry battalion. The battalion’s primary role is to provide specialist capabilities to conduct pre-landing activities for other elements of the Army. 2 RAR has a strength of around 350 personnel, which is smaller than the RAR’s infantry battalions.
A 2017 article in the Australian Infantry Magazine stated that in its specialist role, 2 RAR “will be responsible for amphibious reconnaissance and surveillance, small boat operations, battle space shaping and limited scale raiding in support of a Joint Amphibious Task Force”. The battalion’s main function will be to collect information for the commander of the ADF’s Amphibious Task Group and other decision-makers. It is to be responsible for reconnoitring and seizing beaches, helicopter landing zones and airfields for the Australian Amphibious Force’s main ground combat element. Following the completion of amphibious operations, the battalion will either re-embark or remain ashore as a reconnaissance unit. In the latter role, it is to be capable of conducting reconnaissance patrols well behind enemy lines and providing information to other units.
As part of this change, 2 RAR transitioned to a new structure in January 2018 which comprises a Battalion Headquarters, a Security Company with four infantry platoons, a Support Company and an Administration Company. The battalion is planned to generally deploy as the main element of the Australian Amphibious Force’s Joint Pre-Landing Force (JPLF). It is planned that the 2 RAR elements generally assigned to the Pre-Landing Force (PLF) will be a command and control node, elements from the Reconnaissance and Sniper and Small Boat Platoons, two infantry platoons, a joint fires team and a signals detachment. The JPLF will also comprise Army geospacial and survey teams, electronic warfare teams, amphibious beach teams, Royal Australian Navy clearance divers and other specialist elements.