Photo Information

LINTON MILITARY CAMP (Nov. 20, 2014) - U.S. Marines shared part of their warrior culture with soldiers fron the New Zealand Defense Force with a Marine Corps Birthday cake cutting ceremony following Exercise Kiwi Koru aboard Linton Military Camp on Nov. 20, 2014. Each year, Marines around the world celebrate the Corps' birthday to pay respect to those who have served before and all who have yet to serve (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Paris Capers / Released)

Photo by Sgt. Paris Capers

Exercise Kiwi Koru 2014 takes flight

11 Dec 2014 | Sgt. Paris Capers 13th Marine Expeditionary Unit

U.S. Marines and soldiers began integrating with their counterparts in the New Zealand Defense Force this week as part of Exercise Kiwi Koru 2014, a bilateral exercise occurring every other year on the North Island of New Zealand.

                Kiwi Koru is a planned training event which is meant to enhance defense relations with New Zealand through conducting multinational training and enhancing interoperability between both forces.

The exercise supports Southern Katipo 2015, a complimentary training event occurring in odd years, also centered on operations in the Pacific.

“Kiwi Koru is a chance for us to train collectively in a stability operation, and peacemaking environment,” said Col. Nick Gillard, commander of the 1st New Zealand Brigade, New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF). “We get an opportunity to train in a task organized Task Group, and practice that which we would do if mobilized operationally.”

The training environment explores the cultural, political and economic relationship between fictional island nations in the Pacific, Bekara West and Bekara East, as well as a third nation, Alpira, from which the scenario’s antagonists hail from.

Alongside learning and understanding the intimate details surrounding their deployment to support the Bekaran government, the combat service support and direct combat assets will be spread amongst Task Groups Thunder and Black, respectively.

According to Gilard, dividing the elements of the force lends to the realism of the scenario, as the fictional island nations are geographically hundreds of miles apart. No small bound for logistical planning and decision making.

Task Group Thunder, though located aboard Waiouru Training Camp, is to operate in Bekara West. Task Group Black, located aboard Taranaki Training Camp, is to operate in Bekara East.

Whether they need large, open ranges for the cannoneers from 2nd Battalion, 11th Marine Regiment and their NZDF counterparts to fire the L-119 Light Field Artillery Gun, or a mountainside vantage point for 1st Radio Battalion, I Marine Logistics Group and soldiers from the 1st New Zealand Signals Regiment to keep all troops connected, New Zealand’s training camps span the spectrum, and will provide challenges in more ways than one.

According to Emma Horsley, the Public Relations Officer for 1st New Zealand Brigade, the challenges the troops will be facing is a great opportunity for their public to see the force in action.

“A lot of the time, people know the Defense Force is there, but they might not understand exactly what it does,” said Horsley. “This exercise not only grows our troops, but it gives the public an opportunity to interact with them and see what we’re all about.”

For the Marines, the opportunity to train with other military organizations is just as valuable.

“When you get a chance to train with guys who do things differently it’s always a positive experience,” said Lt. Col. Joseph Lagoski, commanding officer of the 13th Marine Expeditionary Unit, whose Marines are serving as the command element for the exercise, as well as participating throughout. “We’re not here to make take over or re-invent the wheel, but rather compare notes and work together to pick out best practices to take away.”


13th Marine Expeditionary Unit