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Soldiers out West

1 October 2010

Five hundred NZ Defence Force personnel are deploying to the West Coast this week, embarking on their second major South Island training activity for the year.

Soldiers from Burnham’s 3rd Land Force Group and Air Force personnel from Ohakea will spend the next two weeks conducting training in preparation for future operational deployments.

There will be a number of different components taking part in the exercise including infantry, cavalry, logistics, engineers and Air Force helicopters - all assets that are essential to delivering an effective force that can deploy at very short notice. Within these components there will also be 100 soldiers under taking specific training for upcoming deployments to the Solomons and Timor-Leste.

The West Coast provides an excellent training environment for Defence Force personnel due to its landscape. "One of the contingencies that the New Zealand Government requires us to train for is the need to conduct operations in the South West Pacific,” says Lieutenant Colonel Hugh McAslan.

 “Many of the countries in the South West Pacific are heavily forested which makes the West Coast a good place to train for what we call Close Country Operations."  

 “We haven’t conducted an exercise of this size on the Coast since pre-deployment training for Timor-Leste in 2002. This particular exercise will have a focus on the Karamea area and we haven’t had a big exercise there since 1991.”

 Throughout the exercise Westport will be home to 140 personnel from 3 Logistics Battalion, who will be staying at the Westport Racecourse. 3 Logistics Battalion  will be establishing a Combat Service Support Team (CSST) at the Racecourse which will provide catering, supply support, refuelling, transport, repair and recovery for the rest of the troops who will be based in Little Wanganui and Greymouth. The Westport Racecourse was chosen to add to the complexity of the environment, working and operating with and part of a local population, whilst offering a good location to provide support by road and air replenishment.

 The logistics soldiers will be conducting patrols through Westport as part of their exercise throughout the two weeks and Air Force Helicopters will be spotted taking off and landing at the Westport Racecourse.

“We are hugely grateful for the support of the community, and whilst on the West Coast we hope to be involved in several community activities.”

The New Zealand Army will be visiting Westport North School on the morning of Monday 11 October, and holding an open day at the Westport Stadium on Saturday 16 October to thank the community for hosting Defence personnel throughout the exercise. Several extra community tasks are being planned and will be confirmed upon arrival in Westport.

ENDS

For further information or media wishing to visit the exercise please contact Jane Wright, Defence Communications Advisor (Southern), on 021 224 8658

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