31 May 2013
Members of A Company, 1st Battalion patrol towards their target during the live firing phase of Ex ALAM HALFA.
Ensuring the New Zealand Defence Force is prepared for operations is a high priority and the backbone of its recent extensive exercise in the central and lower North Island.
Exercise Alam Halfa conducted in Waiouru, Tararua and Wairarapa concluded earlier this week after a month of pre-deployment training, live firing exercises, field exercises and reconstitution involving more than 1000 personnel from four countries. With such a large exercise, safety was paramount and considerable effort went into ensuring the safety of the soldiers throughout the exercise.
The New Zealand Army and Royal New Zealand Air Force were joined by the Canadian, US and British armies and the US Marine Corps to enact a common conflict scenario of insurgents trying to overthrow a government.
But it wasn’t just military personnel involved in the exercise. Residents also got stuck in and played a part.
Commander of 1 (NZ) Brigade, Colonel (COL) Chris Parsons said having the community involved was essential and appreciated.
"The Tararua and Wairarapa people were vital to the success of the exercise. They had local knowledge and were very supportive of what we were trying to achieve. Their input was invaluable."
Mauriceville beef and sheep farmer David Cameron loaned his wool shed to a group of ‘insurgents’ to lie low and disrupt soldiers trying to flush them out.
He said it was easy to see how hard it would be for military forces trying to identify insurgents who had befriended locals in real conflict situations.
"Insurgents who got on with locals would be very hard to beat. I have a totally new understanding and appreciation for what our Defence Force does."
Mr Cameron said it quickly became obvious how New Zealand soldiers got on with locals when they were deployed.
"The guys we had on our farm got stuck in, got on with everyone and were a credit to the military."
He said he was pleased he was able to help and be part of such an important training exercise.
"It’s important our guys get to train in the right environment so they can do their job when they go overseas," he said.
Exercise Alam Halfa 2013 is the precursor to Exercise Southern Katipo to be held in the South Island later this year.
Please find link to video of Exercise Alam Halfa 2013 - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tGfp1k4D0oE
For more information contact, Emma Horsley Communications Advisor - Central for the New Zealand Defence Force on 021 409 033.