Kiwis planning Southern Katipo 17

The New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF) has again decided to hold its major military exercise in the West Coast, Tasman and Marlborough regions of the South Island in late 2017.

CAPTIONNew Zealand Army soldiers rappel from a Royal New Zealand Air Force NH90 helicopter at the Rainbow Ski Area in Nelson during Exercise Southern Katipo 2015. NZDF photo.

Planning for the exercise, called Southern Katipo, is being stepped up.

Exercise Director Lieutenant Colonel Martin Dransfield is scheduled to meet local authorities and community organisations in the areas over the next two weeks.

“Exercises such as Southern Katipo have huge logistical requirements,” Lieutenant Colonel Dransfield said.

“That is why we have already started to engage with the local communities to gain their support and establish key points of contact.”

He said the success of Exercise Southern Katipo 2015 (SK15) owed much to the support and involvement of local communities.

“We used their land, ports, airfields and, in some cases, private farmland.

“There was strong community involvement and hundreds took part as role-players in certain aspects of the exercise.”

Exercise areas will essentially be the same as those used in SK15 but will extend south to Greymouth in the west and Kaikoura in the east.

Although the exercise scenario will be a continuation of that used in SK15, higher threat levels will be used to create more challenging training environments across the spectrum of operations.

“Opposition groups and challenges presented will allow for a range of military and non-military responses to be exercised, both individually as NZDF and collectively with other government agencies, non-governmental organisations and international partners,” Lieutenant Colonel Dransfield said.

“SK17 will build on the cooperation achieved between the NZDF, other government agencies, non-governmental organisations and regional defence partners during the humanitarian-aid operation in Fiji early this year.

“Southern Katipo aims to test and evaluate the NZDF’s ability to plan and conduct joint operations such as providing humanitarian assistance and responding to requests for assistance in managing a security situation in the south-west Pacific region.”

Held every two years, Southern Katipo involves naval, land and air assets and more than 2000 personnel from New Zealand and several defence partners including Australia, France, the United States, Fiji, Papua New Guinea and Tonga.

Singapore and Malaysia have been invited to participate in 2017, increasing the number of international participants from nine to 11.

New Zealand organisations supporting the exercise include the New Zealand Customs Service, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, New Zealand Police, Ministry for Primary Industries, New Zealand Transport Authority, Immigration New Zealand, Ministry of Health, District Health Boards, Red Cross and St John New Zealand. .

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Brian Hartigan

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