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NZDF in largest ever New Caledonia Croix Du Sud exercise

The biennial humanitarian aid and disaster relief (HADR) exercise Croix Du Sud has ended in New Caledonia with New Zealand Defence Force personnel saying it proved a timely and valuable opportunity to train with regional partners.

23 May, 2023

The 43-strong NZDF contingent joined more than 3000 participants from 16 countries for the Forces Armeés De Nouvelle-Calédonie (FANC) hosted exercise, to practice skills and interoperability in a HADR context.

Personnel from 2nd/1st Royal New Zealand Infantry Regiment, augmented by personnel from 2nd Combat Service Support Battalion, 3rd Combat Service Support Battalion, Defence Health Organisation and Joint Military Police Unit provided an infantry platoon and Combined Joint Task Force Headquarters staff in support of the exercise.

The infantry platoon integrated with a Company from the United States’ 100th Infantry Battalion based in American Samoa, to form ‘D Company’. 

Their role in the exercise was to deploy to a town and secure key locations and routes for aid to be moved to isolated locals, while also protecting the area from fictional adversaries who wished to steal supplies and disrupt the flow of aid to civilians.

D Company commander, United States Captain Talo Siva, said he enjoyed working with the Kiwi troops.

“They’re awesome, just so great to work with.”

The contingent of New Zealanders located in the Combined Joint Task Force Headquarters worked alongside officers of many different nations. 

They were able to share experiences of exercises and deployments all over the world, which provided valuable lessons and context.

NZDF Senior National Officer Major David Pos said the exercise was an excellent opportunity to learn.

“Out in the field or in the headquarters, everyone got something different from the exercise,” he said. 

“Just in the cell I worked in, there was a German Panzergrenadier, an Australian infantryman, a British Ghurka officer and a French Marine. It’s a substantial spread of experience.”  

Croix du Sud 3

Private Harrison Glaister, 2nd/1st Battalion, Royal New Zealand Infantry Regiment, tests French night vision equipment, as Forces Armeés De Nouvelle-Calédonie paratroopers conduct a display of weapons and equipment. Photo Credit: Sergeant Dana Beesley

Major Pos said it was also an opportunity to teach, with the Kiwi medics held in high regard for their skills and ability to impart their knowledge to exercise participants.

Outside of the exercise, the NZDF contingent participated in two Anzac Day services - in Noumea and at the New Zealand war cemetery at Nessadiou.

As the Kiwis headed home, Major Pos said they would have a chance to reflect on their two weeks in New Caledonia and what they’d learned.

“This exercise provides an excellent opportunity to train alongside nations from the Pacific region and beyond, who all acknowledge the threats created by climate change and instability."

“These problems cannot and should not be faced alone and a strong regional network of partners will allow us to respond more timely and effectively to crises as they develop, with the shared experiences of exercises such as these to draw upon.”