Members of the multi-national contingent prepare to land during the RIMPAC amphibious landing exercise
1 August 2016
The New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF) played a key role when Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC), the world’s largest international maritime exercise, culminated in a massive show of force with an amphibious landing in Hawaii yesterday (New Zealand time).
The Royal New Zealand Navy’s (RNZN) Commodore (CDRE) Jim Gilmour was in command of the amphibious force of ships, aircraft and personnel, known as Coalition Task Force 176.
The exercise involved hundreds of sailors and soldiers storming a beach in assault amphibious vehicles, backed by FA-18 Hornet and AH-1W Cobra aircraft. They were supported by the Provisional Marine Expeditionary Brigade-Hawaii and Amphibious Squadron, comprising more than 2500 personnel from New Zealand, Australia, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, South Korea and the United States.
CDRE Gilmour said the opportunity for the NZDF to command the amphibious force was an honour for all those involved.
“Eighteen members of the NZDF were joined by personnel from Australia, the United States, Chile, Colombia and South Korea to form a high-performing command team. My overwhelming impression from this experience has been one of pride in the way our people have acquitted themselves.”
He said the goal of the exercise, which featured a blended international force from the leadership staff down to individual platoons, was to form relationships that would benefit future international exercises and real-world operations.
“Launching the amphibious task force helped us to better understand how to build a stronger force within a multi-national environment to respond to real-world security threats,” he said.
“Being adaptive and interoperable with our partner nations is essential. And we endeavour to do that kind of training often with our regional neighbours, including the United States.
“The opportunity to now be part of RIMPAC in a command position is a great honour and a great opportunity - it allows us to prove that our training is aligned and of a similar quality.”
Major General (MAJGEN) Tim Gall, the Commander Joint Forces New Zealand, said participation in RIMPAC provided a fresh opportunity to develop the NZDF’s war-fighting capabilities.
“Major international exercises like RIMPAC are valuable because they provide essential training for our military personnel that helps improve their readiness for a range of operations,” MAJGEN Gall said. “Taking part in these exercises also strengthens defence co-operation with other countries and enhances our ability to work with them.
“This year we were also very fortunate to be given a major command role, which enabled us to develop our command and control skills in a conventional war-fighting environment.”
Brigadier General Raymond Descheneaux, Commanding General of Fleet Marine Forces at RIMPAC 2016, said it was recognised that the Pacific region was far too large and far too complex for any one nation to oversee.
“We don’t care what kit you bring to the game. We don’t care how much money or how much influence your nation has. When you come here, we are all a team, and as a team we are going to train and we are going to learn from one another,” he said.
The next RIMPAC exercise will be held in 2018.
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