26 August 2014
Having secured, fixed, fuelled, fed, treated, connected and helped to move the multi-national force that participated in Exercise Pitch Black 2014, New Zealand Defence Force personnel begin the journey home.
A New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF) contingent of 50 personnel and three Military Working Dogs arrived home last night from a major international exercise in Australia’s Northern Territory.
Exercise Pitch Black is the Royal Australian Air Force’s (RAAF) largest and most complex exercise of the year, with more than 2000 people and up to 110 aircraft from seven countries involved.
The three-week exercise, which ended at the weekend, provided an opportunity to utilise one of the largest training airspaces in the world to practise air support operations with large formations of foreign aircraft.
The NZDF contribution was a detachment of Royal New Zealand Air Force and New Zealand Army ground and combat support elements, who integrated into the coalition environment to keep the participating nations’ personnel, equipment and aircraft secure, operational and mission-ready.
Flight Lieutenant Todd Meredith, commander of the NZDF detachment, said that the exercise provided a great opportunity for the NZDF to work alongside its key strategic partner Australia, and maintain its network of strong international linkages with the other participating nations.
“Exercise Pitch Black gave us a great opportunity to practise interoperability in a coalition environment. The training benefits and relationship building opportunities that we’ve experienced during the exercise are beneficial for any future coalition operations we may participate in together,” he said.
During the exercise’s closing ceremony, exercise director Group Captain Micka Gray of the RAAF presented superior performer awards to three members of the NZDF detachment.
In recognition of their skills, dedication and professionalism, NZ Army chefs Lance Corporal Ben Dowdall and Private Tyrone Broad, both from 3rd Combat Support Battalion, and Air Force Corporal Sam McKenna, from 209 Squadron Force Protection Unit, received certificates acknowledging their individual contribution to the success of the exercise.