Engineers bond on pack march in PNG

During a partnership visit to their sister unit in Papua New Guinea, sappers from the 3rd Combat Engineer Regiment (3CER) participated in a weighted pack march at Igam Barracks, Lae.

CAPTION: Captain Chris Wetherell pack marches alongside members of the Papua New Guinea Engineer Battalion during a partnership visit in Lae, Papua New Guinea. Story by Major Taylor Lynch. All photos by Warrant Officer Class Two Neil Ruskin.

The physical training session started before first light, with Australian and PNG combat engineers bonding during tough combined training.

Captain Natsen Sawasi, of the PNG Defence Force Engineer Battalion, said combined physical resilience training like the pack march was a necessity.

“It comes back to the nature of the tasks that we conduct. Being field engineers, we are exposed to different kinds of terrain and at certain points we carry all of our equipment with us,” Captain Sawasi said.

“We’ve just increased from 17 to 20 kilos for our pack marches, and we’ll beef that up with chest rigs a bit later.

“The whole concept is to get the guys’ endurance and stamina going so we can get the job done.”

Captain Sawasi said his troops got a morale boost working alongside their regional partners.

“I wasn’t expecting the guys to push all the way on the march; some could have fallen to the rear, but the presence of our counterparts contributed to pushing them further,” he said.

“We must find every opportunity possible to interact with our Australian counterparts, not only on exercises or joint operations, but little visits like this.

“Having the Commanding Officer of 3CER marching with us at a foreign unit, that’s a big deal for us. It really drives morale for our engineers.”

Commanding Officer 3CER Lieutenant Colonel Nick Trotter said his unit had a unique bond with the PNG Defence Force (PNGDF) Engineer Battalion.

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CAPTION: Commanding Officer of the Australian Army’s 3CER, Lieutenant Colonel Nick Trotter, pack marches alongside members of the Papua New Guinea Engineer Battalion.

“We clearly have a fit group of sappers here,” Lieutenant Colonel Trotter said.

“In conflict there’s not many of us, and at 3CER we are very proud to be the sister unit to the PNGDF Engineer Battalion, and train alongside them.

“We’ve been talking about how we can conduct more training together, and hopefully next year we’ll have more Australians in Lae working with our partners in PNG.

“Australia and Papua New Guinea have fought together throughout history, most notably in World War 2.

“One day the Australians and Papua New Guineans might have to fight together again, and I’d be proud to fight with them.”

Captain Sawasi said he was excited to see the collaboration between 3CER and the PNGDF Engineer Battalion continue to grow.

“We are trying to achieve our Commander’s intent, and we are making efforts to merge the PNGDF and ADF engineer capabilities,” he said.

“I’m always grateful for the presence of our counterparts here, and I’m looking forward to more of these interactions and the cultural exchange.”

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CAPTION: Members of the Australian Army’s 3CER and Papua New Guinea Engineer Battalion pack march together.






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2 thoughts on “Engineers bond on pack march in PNG

  • 27/06/2023 at 10:05 am

    You gentlemen are the best. Albert Kapstrom, Col USAF

  • 24/06/2023 at 8:52 pm

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