Bonds of friendship
Exercise participant Lieutenant (Lt) David Hasler, of 4/3RNSWR, said the group worked well together and teamwork helped to overcome any cultural differences.
“We expected it to be difficult with the language barrier while doing such hands-on tasks, however, everyone overcame those barriers with a good sense of camaraderie,” Lt Hasler said.
The soldiers took part in white-water kayaking, caving and mountain-bike riding before helping each other face their fears during an over-water Tyrolean traverse above the raging waters of Jervis Bay.
Captain (Capt) Pan Kongbin, a People’s Liberation Army liaison officer, said the most important thing was trust.
“When abseiling you put your life in the hands of others, so you have to have trust in order to do that,” he said.
Having come straight onto the exercise after two weeks of survival training in the Northern Territory as part of Exercise Kowari, the participants faced the adventurous training with new-found friendships developed through their recent shared adversity.
Deputy Commander 2 Div and Kowari Exercise Commander Brigadier (Brig) Damian Cantwell was pleased to see the progress made by participants since their first days in the outback together.
“The soldiers learnt a variety of new skills during Kowari and have formed life-long friendships and mutual trust,” Brig Cantwell said.
“Pandaroo has reaffirmed these skills and has given them the opportunity to exercise that trust and further develop their friendships in an adventurous setting.”
Activities were specifically designed to push the participants outside of their comfort zones and to encourage them to work through problems relying on various methods of communication.
Pandaroo OIC Colonel (Col) Doug Fraser said while they had interpreters as part of the support staff, at times they deliberately kept them back so the participants were forced to communicate with one another to achieve the tasks.
“The participants bonded over camp fires at night; they exchanged anecdotes and words and learnt how to communicate with one another,” Col Fraser said.