Thursday, October 2, 2008

New Zealand Shares their "Cooperative Spirit"

-- Spc. Warren W. Wright, Jr.

JOINT MULTINATIONAL READINESS CENTER, Germany – Ngati Tumatauenga, the tribe of the God of War. That’s the phrase used in the Maori culture of New Zealand to define their country’s Army.

The New Zealand Army’s history spans 150 years, beginning with small units protecting little more then small villages. Its current force of Territorial and Regular units are key to enhancing the safety and security of the South Pacific, according to the New Zealand Army’s Web site.

In 1965, the New Zealand Army joined the American, British, Canadian and Australian Armies Program as an observer under the sponsorship of the Australian Army. Now, for the first time since their induction as a full member of ABCA in 2006, the New Zealand Army is participating in a test of interoperability between ABCA armies. The name of the test is Cooperative Spirit 2008, a multinational combat training center rotation.

New Zealand, along with the other ABCA armies, are at the Joint Multinational Training Center near Hohenfels, Germany, to train and operate effectively together in the execution of assigned missions and tasks.

Working with ABCA will help the New Zealand Army gain knowledge from the other nations’ experiences as well as open up the opportunity for more training, said New Zealand Army Sgt. Denton F. Paterson, a platoon sergeant in the 2nd / 1st Battalion, Royal New Zealand Infantry Regiment.

The 2nd /1st Battalion, Royal New Zealand Infantry Regiment is currently the only light infantry battalion in the New Zealand Army which can trace its lineage back to the New Zealand Rifle Brigade in the first World War. At present, the battalion and its sub-units have deployed to operations in multiple regions around the world and have continuously been supporting those operations since 2000.

Now, as a member of ABCA, the unit has the ability to get up to date coalition training and has the opportunity to see how other countries function as well as show those countries how the New Zealand Army operates, said New Zealand Army Sgt. Simon A. Perkins of the 2nd /1st Battalion, Royal New Zealand Infantry Regiment.

The 2nd / 1st Battalion has the opportunity to train in a variety of areas, from participating in a live-fire event at the shoothouse compound of the JMRC, to partaking in a full force-on-force exercise while wearing multiple integrated laser engagement system gear. MILES is a detection system worn by Soldiers and their vehicles in a training environment to simulate hits and to perform casualty assessment.

“It’s great training, especially for the younger soldiers who normally wouldn’t get this type of training back home,” said Paterson.

Participation in the ABCA program and in Cooperative Spirit 2008 “can do nothing but good,” he added.

New Zealand will benefit in multiple ways from the training received at the JMRC, said Perkins. From receiving hands-on training to working with helicopters, the unit has the ability to see what the other armies can provide for them as well as show the other nations what the New Zealand Army can offer ABCA. The New Zealand Army has years of experience in providing peace keeping around the world.

“Kiwi’s are very open people and are more then willing to work with other countries,” said Perkins.

With Soldiers like Paterson, who has five tours of duty in various countries, and Perkins, who is a 14-year veteran of the Army, New Zealand’s operational experience around the world and their willingness to share those experiences and their training with allied nations makes the New Zealand Army a valuable addition to the ABCA family.

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