Aussie infantrymen integrated into major Kiwi reservists’ exercise

Biting cold and demanding sub-alpine conditions of the Waiouru Military Training Area in New Zealand’s north island were among the challenges facing part-time soldiers from the NSW-based 5th Brigade when they deployed on Exercise Tasman Reserve.

CAPTION: Australian Army soldier Private Lachlan Parker from 5th Brigade on patrol during Exercise Tasman Reserve 2024. Story by Lieutenant Colonel Rob Barnes.

Thirty-eight soldiers, primarily from the Sydney-headquartered 4th/3rd Battalion, Royal NSW Regiment (4/3RNSWR), joined more than 250 New Zealand Defence Force personnel from 3 to 15 May for the largest New Zealand Reserve Force concentration exercise in more than 18 years.

Called Exercise Tauwharenikau by the New Zealanders, it developed readiness of a reserve force combat team into a New Zealand motorised infantry battle group.

The Australians were integrated into the 3rd/6th Battalion, Royal New Zealand Infantry Regiment, as an integral platoon where they were tasked with security and stabilisation operations, including patrolling, ambush drills, mounted and air-mobile operations, as well as key leadership engagements.

Officer commanding the Australian contingent Major John Dunn described the experience as “suffering with a view”.

He said it was great for his soldiers to work with their NZDF counterparts in environmental conditions very different to Australia.

“The tussock-covered hills of Waiouru, combined with sub-zero temperatures and working at altitudes in excess of 1000 metres, presented some first-time challenges for the soldiers, but they quickly went from surviving to thriving as they adapted,” Major Dunn said.

While the majority of troops came from 4/3RNSWR, the contingent included a small number of soldiers from each of the 5th Brigade’s direct command units to maximise participation opportunities and spread the experience.

Private Lachlan Parker, a budget analyst for the Department of Finance in Canberra, said the environmental conditions were challenging but he relished the opportunity to build resilience, and it was a unique opportunity to integrate into a NZ combat team.

Working side by side with New Zealand Reserve soldiers also allowed the Australians to compare experiences.

Corporal Christopher Wells, a driver trainer for Sydney Trains in Canterbury, said it was a great opportunity to hone his leadership skills in austere environments while developing interoperability with NZDF soldiers and Australian soldiers from other battalions across the 5th Brigade.

Major Dunn said the exercise also enabled the Australian soldiers to learn a little more about Kiwi culture.

“Our welcome to New Zealand included a traditional Pōwhiri at the New Zealand Army Marae – something we greatly appreciated,” Major Dunn said.







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Posted by Brian Hartigan

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