11 August 2014
Aircraftsman Wairakau Greig on patrol with her Royal Australian Air Force counterpart at Royal Australian Air Force Base Darwin during Exercise Pitch Black 14.
Ensuring the safety and security of personnel and aircraft from seven nations is the responsibility of Hastings woman Aircraftman (AC) Wairakau Greig, who is part of a Force Protection team that sees New Zealand and Australian forces working together again in the heat of an Australian Northern Territory winter.
AC Greig, who grew up in Pakipaki, close to Bridge Pa, is an airwoman in the Royal New Zealand Air Force 209 Squadron Force Protection unit. She is in Darwin participating in Ex Pitch Black 2014, which is the Royal Australian Air Force’s (RAAF) largest multi-national combat air training exercise of the year.
The three-week exercise aims to foster multi-national cooperation and has brought military forces from six nations to Australia. The exercise involves day and night flying and provides the New Zealand Defence Force with an opportunity to practise deployment and integration of ground support personnel into coalition environments.
Exercise Pitch Black is not AC Greig’s first time securing aircraft. In March of this year she accompanied RNZAF Boeing 757 and C-130 Hercules throughout the South Pacific, providing security for the aircraft at Kiribati, Rarotonga, Samoa and Tuvalu.
This is AC Greig’s first time working with the RAAF at the base in Darwin. She says that the opportunity to participate in Exercise Pitch Black has reinforced the benefits of a career in the Air Force and she is enjoying seeing how her Australian counterparts conduct security operations for a multi-national force with a variety of aircraft and equipment.
“Together, New Zealand and Australian force protection personnel are conducting patrolling and static guarding 24/7 to ensure that the aircraft and assets of the participating nations are kept secure and operational throughout the exercise.
“It has been great to see up close some of the different aircraft that are here and learn about their capabilities. This is why I like being in the Air Force. You get paid to travel and work in some interesting places and you are always learning,” she says.
AC Greig will return to her Ohakea base in late August.
For further information please contact Defence Communications Group, 021 487 980.
Exercise Pitch Black is a multi-national air combat exercise that takes place in the Northern Territory of Australia, every two years. It is the Royal Australian Air Force’s largest training exercise of 2014 and includes participants from New Zealand, the United States, Singapore, Thailand, United Arab Emirates and New Caledonia. The exercise will run over the period 1-22 August 2014.
The NZDF is contributing three military working dogs and 50 personnel in total, comprising of Force Protection elements, aviation refuellers, medics, ground support equipment technicians, chefs, communications specialists, air movements operators, Headquarters staff and augmentees.