Australian Forces in S. Pacific Disaster Relief Exercise

By George Backwell
Tuesday, August 26, 2014
HMAS Labuan: Photo RAN

Almost 200 members of the Australian Navy, Army and Air Force are joining forces with personnel from across the region in a major humanitarian relief exercise in the South Pacific, says the Australia Defence Force (ADF).

ExerciseCroix du Sud, which is French for “Southern Cross’, is being hosted by France in New Caledonia. The scenario is based on the devastating aftermath of a category four cyclone.

The challenge for the allied forces will be to assist the local community with humanitarian relief and security as well as coordinating the evacuation of Australian citizens and foreign nationals.

The Commander of the Australian Contingent, Wing Commander Jim Xinos, said that the exercise demonstrates Australia’s enduring contribution to humanitarian and disaster relief with multi-national partners.

“Australia and our Pacific partners share a common interest in the security and stability of the region,” Wing Commander Xinos said. “This exercise allows Australia the opportunity to reaffirm the importance we place on a secure and prosperous Pacific.”

This year ADF participation will include a Deployable Geospatial Survey Team and a Rifle Company from 2 RAR, based in Townsville.

Royal Australian Navy landing craft HMAS Labuan and Tarakan will also be taking part, along with a RAAF KA350 King Air aircraft with supporting personnel and 35 command staff.

They will be working with 500 personnel from 11 countries, including Canada, Chile, France, Great Britain, Japan, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Tonga, United States of America and Vanuatu.

The importance of Exercise Croix du Sud was recognised during the 2013 South Pacific Chiefs of Defence and South Pacific Defence Ministers’ Meetings.
It is also Australia’s key opportunity to conduct a practical level military engagement with the French Armed Forces.

Exercise Croix du Sud is conducted from 25 August to 5 September 2014 in New Caledonia and surrounding waters.

ADF adds that the Exercise also demonstrates the close cooperation between the ADF and the New Zealand Defence Force, with HMNZS Canterbury transporting 120 ADF troops from Townsville to the Exercise.
 

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