The New Zealand Army has returned to field training in the Pacific after two years spent protecting New Zealand’s borders from COVID-19.
A 34-strong team from from Linton-based 1 Royal New Zealand Infantry Regiment (1RNZIR) are taking part in the French Armed Forces New Caledonia (FANC) multinational Exercise Tagata’toa for the first time.
Working alongside an Australian Army detachment, NZ Army personnel trained and rehearsed over two weeks for a wide variety of contingency operations, ranging from disaster relief to combat.
Commanding Officer of 1RNZIR, Lieutenant Colonel Logan Vaughan said it was a worthwhile exercise that covered critical skills as well as interoperability with the Pacific Islands Regiment New Caledonia and the 6th Royal Australian Regiment.
“Our soldiers have thoroughly enjoyed the opportunity to exercise overseas with our French and Australian partners after completing two years of MIQ duties,” he said.
“Familiarising ourselves with other nations’ tactics and equipment and then successfully conducting a high-tempo close country exercise as part of a French unit was an excellent learning experience and very rewarding.”
As the exercise also fell over Anzac Day, the Kiwis were able to commemorate the occasion in Noumea and Bourail with the FANC, Australian soldiers and the New Zealand Consulate-General in two special services.
The New Zealand Defence Force has a positive relationship with the FANC, regularly participating in the biennial Exercise Croix Du Sud, the largest humanitarian aid and disaster relief exercise in the South Pacific, also with Australian Defence Force personnel.
Earlier this year, personnel from all three countries contributed to Operation Pacific Relief, which delivered immediate relief to the people of Tonga following the devastating Hunga Ha’apai eruption and tsunami.
New Zealand Army Land Component Commander, Brigadier Hugh McAslan said the exercise was a welcome opportunity to re-establish French, Australian and New Zealand engagement and relationships.
“Multinational exercises like Tagata’toa give us the chance to test and train together to refresh common operating procedures and interoperability, which is crucial to being on the front foot when we’re called on to provide support to real life security and stability or humanitarian aid and disaster relief operations,” he said.