Soldier punches above her weight and deploys with unit
TOOWOOMBA Hospital pharmacist Monica Fortunaso might be a mild-mannered health professional by day but on weekends she puts on her war face and gets to the front lines.
Private Fortunaso punches well above her slight 70kgs running the 2.4 km army fitness test in just over nine minutes and punches out 63 push ups, well up on most of the men in her unit.
She parades with Alpha Company of the 25/49th Battalion Royal Queensland Regiment in Toowoomba and said joining the army was something she would regret later in life if she hadn't given it a go.
"I grew up in Newcastle and the army is a big part of the community there and I always wanted to be a part of it," she said.
"I love it because army people can adapt to change and hard conditions a lot better while civilians can be a bit uptight and not just have a laugh when things get tough."
Private Fortunaso works as a quartermaster and come July will deploy with her unit to Shoal Water Bay Training Area on Exercise Hamel.
She said she would be following the Reserve Battle Group supporting the boys right up to the front line with weapons, water, food and ammunition.
"I'll have everything you need to fight a battle," she said.
"I will be driving my truck up there with the rest of the Q-Store staff from the other units and we are looking forward to a full-on 16 days."
Exercise Hamel is the culminating exercise for the certification of the 3rd Brigade as Australia's "Ready Brigade", with the 11th and 13th Brigades forming the Brigade's Reinforcing Battle Group, Battle Group Cannan.
The 11th Brigade consists of soldiers from Queensland Army depots and the 13th Brigade hails from Western Australia with the role of the Reinforcing Battle Group to support the Ready Brigade as required.
Battle Group Cannan is named in honour of Major General James Cannan, from Townsville, who commanded the 11th Infantry Brigade at the Battle of Messines, the Battle of Broodseinde and during the Hundred Days Offensive, becoming Quartermaster General of the Australian Army during the Second World War.
On Exercise Hamel soldiers will be trained in a range of scenarios including security and humanitarian assistance operations.
Lieutenant Colonel Mark Smith, Commander of the Reinforcing Battle Group, said the challenges faced by the soldiers on Exercise Hamel would be as close as possible to the situations and conditions on a real operation.
"This will be as realistic as it gets and it will be a great opportunity for the soldiers to work in partnership with full-time soldiers and develop some real experience and skills," he said.
"This exercise brings together all the army's capability into the same space with air and naval assets in support and gives soldiers a real taste of combined arms manoeuvre warfare."
Private Fortunaso said she had made a lot of good friendships in the army already and was looking forward to the experience you get from a major exercise.
"I have serious skills outside just studying books and I like to put them into practice for the army," she said.
"I love the training; It's tough but it's a lot of fun as well."