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Australia Conducts Freefall Training to Mitigate Stress in Soldiers

The Australian Army has conducted freefall training to mitigate warfighters’ combat stress in Lower Light, South Australia.

Held at the Adelaide Skydiving Centre, the course is an effort to apply “stress inoculation” for soldiers to maintain a healthy cognitive state in their combat roles.

Stress inoculation is a type of psychotherapy that enhances the handling techniques and coping skills of an individual ahead of stressful and complex scenarios.

Participants were drawn from the service’s 1st Armoured Regiment based in Edinburgh.

“Doing training like this lets us get that experience, so when the time does come where we might be put under stress, we’ll be better equipped to deal with it mentally,” Australian Army Corporal Jack Moore-Lussu stated.

“It doesn’t take long at all to get to a point where you can get super comfortable jumping out of the aircraft.”

Alongside stress, Australian Army Lieutenant Grace Neuhaus said the activity enabled them to overcome acrophobia, the intense fear of heights.

“I personally struggle with heights quite a lot, and it’s been really, really good for that. It ties into the resilience piece, overcoming fears to build resilience, which I think can only help us in our jobs,” the officer explained.

“It also helps us to strengthen relationships, meeting other people from around the regiment, talking to each other outside of the rank structure. It’s a great opportunity for everyone to interact in an environment that’s completely unfamiliar.”

Lieutenant Grace Neuhaus gives the thumbs up following a successful landing during the accelerated freefall course at the Adelaide Skydiving Centre, South Australia. *** Local Caption *** Australian Army soldiers from 1st Armoured Regiment participated in resilience training at Lower Light, South Australia in October 2023. The activity focused on skydiving with members training with Adelaide Skydiving Centre to go from novices through to obtaining their A licence at the conclusion of the course.
Lieutenant Grace Neuhaus gives the thumbs up following a successful landing during the accelerated freefall course in South Australia. Photo: SGT Peng Zhang/Australian Department of Defence

Boosting Morale

Corporal Moore-Lussu said the course provided several advantages to the participants, and they expect other units to adopt this approach in the future.

“Looking at the guys who have come out and done this course, we’ve seen a massive increase not only on the personal resilience level, but something that will help them to develop as an individual as well,” he said.

“It’s quite an overwhelming experience. There isn’t much to compare it to. The sensation is unreal, unlike anything else I’ve done before.”

According to 1st Armoured Regiment Commander Lt. Col. Mick Henderson, this type of preparation can “solidify traits” of a unit while simultaneously integrating “well-deserved fun” for in-service personnel.

“Resilience is a cornerstone of our profession,” Henderson emphasized. “The ability of our individuals, teams, and organisations to not just adapt, but to thrive amidst risk, challenge, danger, complexity and adversity.”

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