The Australian Government has formed a new specialist team, known as Diggerworks, that will deliver new equipment for enhanced protection of Australian troops in Afghanistan, Defence Materiel Minister Jason Clare has said.

“The work Diggerworks is doing is very important. It’s about soldiers who have been in Afghanistan using their experience to help soldiers in the field,” he added.

The new team, headed by Colonel Jason Blain, comprises defence agencies, combat-experienced soldiers, scientists and engineers.

Diggerworks aims to respond to the changing needs of soldiers in the battlefield by developing combat solider capability and is similar to the US Marine Corps’ Gruntworks.

The new team, already in action, has developed a new pelvic protection system for soldiers currently operating in Afghanistan.

Diggerworks is also responsible for developing the new TBAS lighter combat body armour, and work on a $20m research project with the defence industry, the Defence Materials Technology Centre, the University of Wollongong and RMIT.

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The project will enhance the protective equipment worn by soldiers to combat a range of existing and evolving threats, such as improvised explosive devices.