The Dibb Report into mainland defence of Australia,1986, among other things identified the requirement for protection of key assets in Northern Australia and the possibility of involving Army Reserve (Ares) units in this thus releasing regular forces for offensive operations. Dibb also pointed out that this defined role would result in a huge lift in Ares morale.
In June 1988, the 3rd Division (3Div) conducted a Tactical Exercise without Troops (TEWT), Exercise ‘Distant Trumpet’ in the Katherine- Darwin area to study problems associated with defence against low level incursions against Tindal RAAF Base. Exercise ‘Northern Explorer’ followed in October of that year when units of the 3Div including A Squadron 8/13 Victorian Mounted Rifles sent patrol groups to get a first taste of environment and conditions. Post-Exercise reports had to include recommendations re: health, equipment and adaptation of Standing Operating Procedures (SOPs) in preparation for the new role deploying to Northern Australia. The first deployment by 8/13 Victorian Mounted Rifles was in 1988. Deployments continued in following years. In September 1993, 3 Troop (Wangaratta) VMR Squadron 4/19 PWLH commanded by Captain Kelvin Robertson deployed to NT. The training began with airfield defence at Tindal followed by a 1000km recon into Arnhem Land in four Landrovers. The troop reported on the conditions of the roads, airfields, bridges (mainly causeways) resources such as fuel supplies in the towns and infrastructure. Each troop taking different route. 3 Troop had the Northern route through Kakadu National park across the East Alligator River to Oenpelli then to Maningrida and Ramangining and south to the Central Arnhem Road and back to Tindal Air force Base.
Colour photograph of five soldiers and three vehicles of VMR Squadron,4/19 Prince of Wales's Light Horse on roadside during annual exercise in Northern Territory 1994.