2RAR provides HADR capability
The exercise, hosted by France in New Caledonia from 25 August to 5 September, was a scenario based on the devastating aftermath of a category four cyclone, with many villagers in the island nation becoming displaced and needing assistance.
Major Nick McCarthy from 2RAR said that while many of the 2RAR soldiers had previous experience dealing with similar scenarios, the realistic nature of the exercise allowed them to focus on providing immediate assistance to those in need while working alongside their foreign counterparts.
“Gaining familiarity with a country like this has been excellent,” Major McCarthy said.
“For guys who have not worked overseas before they’ve gained a significant level of experience and exposure to a possible operating environment in the future.”
While 10 nations were involved in the exercise, the 2RAR soldiers spent the majority of their time working alongside French Armed Forces members.
“Their skills and drills are very good,” he said.
“The challenge here is that we have people who don’t speak the same language so you’ve got to adapt so you can communicate with them.”
Lance Corporal Ricky McKean from 2RAR said the soldiers had enjoyed the chance to engage with their French counterparts and compare the different elements of their respective armies.
“The language barrier has been a bit hard but it’s good to see the other side of the fence and see how they operate,” he said.
Major McCarthy said the soldiers spent a week training with members from the Tonga Defence Services, US Marines, French Armed Forces and New Zealand Army on the mainland of New Caledonia, before flying out on a Royal Canadian Air Force C-130J Hercules to the island of Lifou to begin the HADR phase of the exercise.
“The soldiers have had some invaluable training which will be key to ensuring our regional neighbours are looked after if an emergency situation like this ever occurs,” he said.