Lieutenants step up to foster Fijian ties

Lieutenants step up to foster Fijian ties

Captain Jesse Robilliard

In a first, two Australian lieutenants have completed the Republic of Fiji Military Forces infantry captains’ course in a sign of the deepening relationship between the two countries.

Lieutenants Kai Kearney and Matthew Low, from 7th Combat Brigade’s 8th/9th Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment, completed the five-week course in late November.

The officers were invited to take part in the course and Lieutenant Kearney said it significantly boosted his military education.

“The course was a great learning vehicle to improve and build upon my knowledge,” he said.

“It also served to give me a greater understanding of the role of a second-in-command in an infantry company and the logistical processes that enable them.”

Lieutenant Low said the Fijian infantry captains’ course helped him understand the additional responsibilities of a promotion.

“The course was an excellent opportunity to shift my perspective from platoon to company level, in both offensive and defensive operations as well as stability operations,” he said.

In addition to offering his own expertise, Lieutenant Low said he was able to learn a significant amount from his hosts.

“It was an amazing experience to work hand-in-hand with our Fijian counterparts. They had a lot of operational experience through their peacekeeping efforts in Iraq,” he said.

“It was a really good synergy of ideas and thoughts on military strategy, tactics and staff work.”

In addition to benefiting from the exchange of military expertise, Lieutenant Low said the Fijian hospitality was amazing.

“There is a great sense of community and family. Fiji is a place where everyone is truly looking out for each other,” he said.

“They are extremely generous and have shown us nothing but a superb hospitality, from inviting us to their villages, to meeting their own families or, in the case of one Fijian officer, showing us the village where he grew up.”

Lieutenant Kearney said his most memorable experience was helping improve morale close to the end of the course.

“I will never forget it,” he said.

“It was the second-last tactical exercise without troops and most people were exhausted, so we bought these guys lots of snacks to keep morale high,” he said.

“Juice, cookies, you name it. We completely devoured it all within an hour.

“After that, the exercise was smooth sailing with morale at an all-time high.”