NZDF to Host International Military Exercise

Action from Exercise Southern Katipo 15.
Action from Exercise Southern Katipo 15.

18 September 2017

More than 2,000 military personnel from New Zealand and 13 other countries will descend on the top of the South Island at the start of October for an international exercise hosted by the New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF).

Exercise Southern Katipo 17 (SK17), which runs from 2 October to 18 November, aims to test and evaluate the NZDF’s ability to plan and conduct joint operations involving a range of naval, land, and air assets. It will also involve military personnel from Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Fiji, New Caledonia, Malaysia, Papua New Guinea, Singapore, Tonga, Timor Leste, the United Kingdom and the United States.

The exercise areas will be the West Coast, Tasman and Marlborough, extending south to Greymouth in the west and Kaikoura in the east.

The SK17 exercise scenario will be a continuation of that used in Southern Katipo 15, in which New Zealand deployed a military contingent to lead a multinational combined joint task force to will help restore law and order in a fictional South Pacific country called Becara. The multinational task force conducted stability, support and humanitarian operations, including the evacuation of internally displaced people.

However, the exercise director, Lieutenant Colonel Martin Dransfield, said in SK17 higher threat levels would be used to create more challenging training environments across the spectrum of operations.

“Opposition groups and challenges presented will allow for a range of military and non-military responses to be exercised, both individually as NZDF and collectively with other government agencies, non-governmental organisations and international partners,” Lieutenant Colonel Dransfield said.

As well as the international military partners, New Zealand organisations supporting the exercise will include the New Zealand Customs Service, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, New Zealand Police, Ministry for Primary Industries, New Zealand Transport Authority, Immigration New Zealand, Ministry of Health, District Health Boards, Red Cross and St John New Zealand.

SK17 would build on the cooperation achieved between the NZDF, other government agencies, non-governmental organisations and regional defence partners during recent humanitarian aid operations such as in Fiji and Kaikoura last year, Lieutenant Colonel Dransfield said.

Major General Tim Gall, Commander Joint Forces New Zealand, said SK17 would provide participants with a realistic portrayal of an emergency that might arise in the South West Pacific.

“In SK17 we will be dealing with challenges that commanders have to grapple with in real-world operations, such as exercising command and control over units that are operating in remote areas,” Major General Gall said.

“Our personnel are well-trained and ready to respond to any crisis at home or overseas. And through exercises like SK17 we get the chance to enhance our ability to operate effectively alongside other militaries.”

Lieutenant Colonel Dransfield said the success of such exercises owed much to the support and involvement of local communities.

“We use their land, ports, airfields and, in some cases, private farmland,” he said. “There was strong community involvement in Southern Katipo 15, with hundreds taking part as role-players in certain aspects of the exercise, and that will happen again this year.”

Media opportunity:

The media will have the chance to get up close to the action throughout Exercise Southern Katipo 17.
What: Exercise Southern Katipo 17
Where: Grey, Buller, Tasman, Nelson, Marlborough, Kaikoura and Canterbury
When: 2 October – 18 November

To find out more about media opportunities over the course of the exercise and to express an interest in attending, email or phone 021 487 980

This page was last reviewed on 19 September 2017.