New Zealand Defence Force, November 23, 2015 - More than 2,000 military personnel supported by an array of naval, land, and air assets have spent the past month conducting a fictional military campaign across the top of the South Island as part of Exercise Southern Katipo 2015 (SK15).
SK15 concluded today and was designed to test the New Zealand Defence Force’s (NZDF) ability to work with other militaries in responding to humanitarian and security emergencies in the Southwest Pacific.
“SK15 affirmed the Defence Force’s ability to work alongside its partners in providing humanitarian assistance and responding to requests for support in managing a security situation in the Southwest Pacific region,” said Major General (MAJGEN) Tim Gall, Commander Joint Forces New Zealand.
The training scenario saw New Zealand deploying a military contingent to help restore law and order in a fictional South Pacific country called Becara. The multinational Combined Joint Task Force led by the NZDF conducted support and humanitarian operations, including the evacuation of internally displaced persons, throughout the month-long operation.
The towns of Westport, Murchison and Havelock, and the remote Titirangi Bay and Okiwi Bay in the Marlborough Sounds hosted personnel from New Zealand and eight other countries, namely Australia, Canada, Fiji, France, Papua New Guinea, Tonga, the United Kingdom and the United States. Hundreds of residents from Westport to the Marlborough Sounds posed as protesters, internally displaced people, and foreign nationals in need of urgent evacuation.
MAJGEN Gall acknowledged parallels between the training scenario and the crises in Bougainville and the Solomon Islands, where the NZDF have sent troops in response to requests to address widespread unrest.
“The realistic scenario tested the NZDF’s capabilities and it is important that we continually train alongside our partners.
“SK15 also provided an opportunity to exercise the Anzac Ready Reaction Force, which is an initiative between the Australian and New Zealand governments to plan and exercise for joint emergency responses in the region.
“Our personnel are well-trained and ready to respond to any crisis at home or overseas. Through countless operations and exercises here and internationally, we have shown that we are able to operate effectively alongside other militaries.
“I also want to take this opportunity to thank the community for hosting us as well as acknowledging those that volunteered with some of the activities,” said MAJGEN Gall.
SK15 marked the first time since over a decade that Fiji has taken part in a joint exercise with the NZDF.
New Zealand agencies supporting the exercise included the New Zealand Customs Service, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, New Zealand Police, Ministry of Primary Industries, New Zealand Transport Authority, Immigration New Zealand, Ministry of Health, District Health Boards New Zealand, Red Cross, Amnesty International, and St John New Zealand.