New Zealand Army personnel have returned to the essential work of a soldier after two years helping to combat the Covid-19 pandemic.
The Army is conducting its first major exercise since the completion of Operation Protect, the Defense Force’s response to Covid-19, this week in Manawatu.
The Torokiki exercise takes place at Linton Military Camp and the Raumai Range west of the Bulls in Rangitīkei. It is a milestone in the army’s five-year renewal plan.
Soldiers work on the basic combat skills, small leadership, and mental and physical challenges of the personnel.
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* Soldiers complete a 16 hour mental and physical test at Invercargill
Ground component commander Col. Duncan Roy said they have about 1,000 troops from across the country participating.
“We got to spend some time together today in a challenging environment where we can connect, [and] We return to the basic business of the soldiers.
“[It’s] It’s really aimed at the individual level and the beginner level, so we work in sections and groups of 10 and there are a lot of different activities to give our people the experimental difference points that come with being in the military.”
As part of Operation Protect, many Soldiers have been away from their regular duties and have instead been involved in managing managed isolation and quarantine facilities.
“We have been busy with hotels for MIQ facilities and are happy to do so. This is what the government wanted and the nation needed.”
“It’s great to be able to leave that behind and reorient and look at the core business of Soldiers and come back to that.
“We’re a quite young organization with up and coming people.
“A few people who joined in the last couple of years haven’t had that opportunity, so it’s really exciting and neat to be able to do that.”
Before Covid-19, the Army wasn’t doing exercises of this scale, but Roy said they wanted to make a statement with everyone together and lay this as a basis before more complex training next year.
Next year, soldiers will do specialized training in things like logistics, signaling, or combat.
The exercise was divided into five days, with different activities, and employees were positioned to work with “good basic skills” regardless of the organization in which they work.
They also talked about the army’s culture and spirit.
Roy said he’s heard a lot of positives from the soldiers about working together and sharing unique experiences.
“Whether it’s hiking on a range in Raumai, whether it’s doing a good military action like we see here, or some funky things we do like pitching a tent underwater, there are some challenging things designed to tweak those mental skills and teamwork.”
The training sessions included live shooting sessions, medical training, and running an obstacle course.
There was a training simulation where soldiers went through shipping containers and fired at targets using a new form of electronic blank, which came from a Norwegian company and was seen as a cheaper option than regular blanks.
At Raumai they were doing live shooting and working with NH90 helicopters.
Staff Sergeant Jack Colton was the instructor for the medical session, which he said was designed to update combat first aid skills and work as a team.
During the session, the soldiers acted as casualties, complete with make-up that looked like bloody wounds and loud wailing, that had to be treated.
Soldiers were also taught how to use a tourniquet to stop a person’s bleeding.
Live Shooting Training at Linton Shooting Range Soldiers were practicing using Glock pistols and shooting at a target from different ranges and positions, until they reacquainted themselves with the weapons.
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