NZ troops on their way home

KATHRYN KING
Last updated 12:00 29/07/2014
soldier
NZ DEFENCE FORCE
Mission accomplished: A New Zealand Army soldier prepares to take aim during Exercise Hamel, the Australian Army’s annual foundation warfighting exercise, which was held in Townsville, northern Queensland.

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Soldiers from Linton Miltary Camp are expected to begin their return today after just under a month of war excercises in Queensland, Australia.

About 260 New Zealand troops, primarily from Linton, embarked on Excercise Hamel, a 25-day Australian-led warfighting exercise in Townsville, northern Queensland, earlier this month.

The last of the participants are expected to arrive back on August 7. Equipment would be returned on the HMNZS Canterbury.

Colonel Nick Gillard, Commander of the New Zealand's Army's 1 Brigade, based at Linton, said the excercise tested soldiers' collective warfighting skills and enhanced their ability to operate as a united front.

It was a longstanding tradition between the two countries to work in coalition, and such excercises reinforced that relationship, he said.

Units from New Zealand were integrated into teams with their Australian counterparts, he said.

The conflict scenario included an interstate conflict, which had elements of insurgent forces, and friendly indigenous people, he said.

They were also challenged with working and living for weeks in an austere environment, with relatively high temperatures, while combating dust and potentially poisonous wildlife.

Gillard said this year's exercise aimed to develop and test Australian Defence Force information gathering capability together with elements of the NZ Army, United States Army and the US Marine Corps.

"In any combat operation, having good information and the same information is crucial for commanders to make the right decisions. This exercise gives our soldiers the opportunity to refine their training alongside friendly partners," Gillard said.

"It also enables NZ Army personnel to maintain their combat-readiness in all types of terrain and environment, and to gain further experience in operating as part of a large force."

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