Community response to military exercise praised

The biggest international military exercise ever held in New Zealand has been hailed a ''huge success'', and one made even better by the people of South Canterbury and Waitaki.

The four-week exercise, called Southern Katipo 2013,

involved 10 nations and more than 2000 troops, who were in action across South Canterbury and North Otago, including in Timaru, Waimate, Kurow and the Waitaki Valley.

It officially ended on Sunday, and exercise chief of staff Commander Pete Kempster said it had been ''a big success''.

Armed forces personnel from New Zealand, Australia, Canada, France, Malaysia, Papua New Guinea, Singapore, Tonga, the United Kingdom and the United States had been involved in the exercise.

Cmdr Kempster said the exercise was the ''first big step'' in demonstrating the capability of an amphibious task force.

He said one of the main aims had been to see how 10 nations would be able to work together, and although most areas had gone as planned, some lessons had been learned.

''In some areas, it is quite easy for all of the nations and ourselves to work shoulder to shoulder, and in other areas there is obviously some challenges.

''Communications equipment is obviously a big one that we probably need to do some work on. But it is not until you get all 10 countries working together shoulder to shoulder in the field that you are going to learn some of these lessons.''

He added that the way the local community became involved and integrated into the exercise had also provided an ''unexpected'' benefit.

''... they were really involved the whole way through and I think the support we received from them was the highlight for everybody, really.''


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