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Friendships formed during Australian military skills competition

12 September 2019

Soldiers from eight nations across the Indo-Pacific region have put their abilities, toughness and camaraderie on show during a military skills competition in Brisbane, Australia.


New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Malaysia, the Philippines, Tonga, Fiji and France through its forces in New Caledonia each sent a team of ten soldiers for this year’s competition.


Brunei, Thailand, Indonesia and Vanuatu sent observers and may send a team next year.


Throughout the exercise, which ran from September 4 to 14 at Greenbank Training Area near Brisbane, teams were presented with problems to overcome through application of teamwork, leadership and endurance.


Tasks included quick decision making exercises, navigation, and section attacks using airsoft rifles. The exercise also included rifle and pistol marksmanship competitions. 


Lieutenant Iliano Vuruna from the Republic of Fiji Military Forces said that training with the Australian Army had been a great experience.


“We have learnt a lot through training with the Australian Army about things that we don’t do in Fiji” said Lieutenant Vuruna.


Major Daet from the Armed Forces of the Philippines said Exercise Hydra was an opportunity to meet other nations and see how they conduct activities.


“Australia is a very good place for us to see some new things and to adopt good practices” said Major Daet.


Lieutenant Nala from the Papua New Guinea Defence Force said that the activities presented challenges that tested both the mind and the body.


“This activity is really interesting, it’s really good test of our teamwork and problem solving” Lieutenant Nala said.


Malaysian team leader Captain Adi Sumansyah Bin Abu Shah said that the exercise reflected the spirit of cooperation between countries.


“This has been an opportunity for us to learn about the culture and armed forces of countries across the Asia-Pacific” said Captain Sumansyah Bin Abu Shah. 


While in Australia, teams participated in cultural exchanges that allowed them to demonstrate their own, and participate in other nations’ traditions. This included attending an Australian Aboriginal Welcome to Country ceremony and putting on performances and presentations each night to teach other soldiers about their own country.


The exercise also included a senior leader seminar, where representatives from participating nations discussed common security challenges and opportunities in the region.


After a week of fierce, but friendly competition, New Zealand, France through its forces in New Caledonia and the Australian Army’s 3rd Brigade were awarded a gold standard.


Malaysia, Fiji, the Philippines and the Australian Army’s 7th Brigade received silver and Tonga, Papua New Guinea and the Australian Army’s 17th Brigade received bronze.


Private John Manitis from Papua New Guinea received the Hydra Award for demonstrating toughness, courage, teamwork and compassion.


The Marksmanship Award was presented to Corporal Khairul from Malaysia.


The Team Spirit Award was presented to His Majesty’s Armed Forces (Tonga).


Exercise Hydra 2019 was the third iteration of an annual competition hosted by the Australian Army’s 7th Brigade.


Australian Army 7th Brigade Commander, Brigadier Andrew Hocking, says he hopes to grow Exercise Hydra.


“The competition has been a fantastic way to foster people to people links, personal friendships, cultural understanding and trust between soldiers and nations through military camaraderie.


“I am very proud of the efforts of all the competitors involved. They do their countries and our region proud”, said Brigadier Hocking.


With the competition over, the teams of soldiers will now return home with trophies, but also stories of the Australian bush, kangaroos, mateship and the bonds they formed with new friends from across the region.


Imagery will be available at

Last updated
18 September 2019
Army: Courage. Initiative. Respect. Teamwork.
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