New Zealand multi-national military exercise to get bigger

Wellington, Oct 31 (IANS) New Zealand’s largest multi-national military exercise is to get even bigger, with more countries taking part in it, the New Zealand Defense Force (NZDF) said on Monday.

The Southern Katipo exercise held every two years involves naval, land and air services and more than 2,000 personnel from New Zealand and defence partners including Australia, France, the US, Fiji, Papua New Guinea and Tonga.

Singapore and Malaysia have been invited to participate in next year’s drill, increasing the number of international participants from nine to 11, Xinhua news agency quoted the NZDF as saying.

The exercise, scheduled for late 2017, would again be held around the west and north of the South Island.

Planning for the war game was being stepped up, exercise Director Lieutenant Colonel Martin Dransfield said.

“Exercises such as Southern Katipo have huge logistical requirements. That is why we have already started to engage with the local communities to gain their support and establish key points of contact,” Dransfield said.

The last exercise in 2015 had used land, ports, airfields and private farmland, while hundreds of civilians took part as role-players in the exercise.

The biennial exercise would build on the cooperation achieved between the NZDF, other government agencies, non-governmental organisations and regional defence partners during the humanitarian aid operation after Tropical Cyclone Winston struck Fiji in February, killing 42 persons.

–IANS

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