More than 100 soldiers from the New Zealand Army are rolling into Whanganui and Marton as part of a training exercise.
The 1st Royal New Zealand Infantry Regiment (1RNZIR), normally based at Linton Military Camp, and other army units will be in the area until July 6 taking part in Exercise Black Diamond, where they will be tested in battle-handling exercises for stabilisation and support operations (SASO).
Commanding Officer of 1RNZIR Lieutenant Colonel Aidan Shattock said being able to train outside the normal military environment was vital to ensure soldiers had the skills required to conduct operations at home and overseas.
“We really appreciate the local community support we get when we train outside our camps and bases. Whanganui has always been very supportive of our soldiers and we have had a very positive response from the council and locals allowing us to use their land and taking part in the exercise themselves.”
Locals are likely to see soldiers with weapons and military vehicles. There also will be blank firing and simulated ammunition-based activities in some areas –these will be clearly signposted. No live ammunition will be used in this part of the exercise.
“Being able to exercise in everyday environments means our personnel are able to support domestic, regional and global security situations,” Lieutenant Colonel Shattock said.
The NZDF is used to providing assistance to its Pacific neighbours, having previously undertaken stability and security operations in Bougainville, Tonga, the Solomon Islands and Timor-Leste.
Exercise Black Diamond is a precursor to Exercise Sari Bair in September, in which all Army units will gather for a combined arms training exercise in the central North Island.