NZDF joining war-fighting exercise in Australia

New Zealand Defence Force
3 min readJun 26, 2017


NZ Light Armoured Vehicles are loaded on to HMNZS Canterbury in preparation for next month’s Exercise Talisman Saber

More than 700 New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF) personnel, two NH90 helicopters, a Combined Arms Task Group and HMNZS Canterbury are about to take to the sea, air and land as part of an international war-fighting exercise in Australia.

Talisman Saber, a bilateral and biennial Australian-hosted and United States-supported combined exercise running from 5–26 July, focuses on planning and fighting wars.

“This is the second time the NZDF have been invited to participate in this exercise,” Commander Joint Forces, Major General Tim Gall, said. “It allows our Navy, Army and Air Force the opportunity to work alongside our allies and partners, focusing on our interoperability on the land, sea and in the air and testing real-world, multi-national scenarios.”

Taking place in 20 locations around Australia and involving up to 34,000 participants, Talisman Saber provided an essential training opportunity for the NZDF, Major General Gall said.

“In order to continue protecting New Zealand’s interests, our organisation needs to continue to ensure its effectiveness in a war-fighting environment,” he said. “While much of our day-to-day activity focuses on providing assistance and training to our regional neighbours and our main operations across the globe, at the end of the day we are a fighting force.

“Exercises like Talisman Saber give us the opportunity to test our people, our capabilities, our skills and our focus around combat scenarios, while working alongside some of our closest military partners.”

On top of the more than 700 personnel deploying, equipment from across the NZDF will also be used during the Australian Defence Force’s largest training exercise of the year.

The Royal New Zealand Navy’s HMNZS Canterbury will transport much of the NZDF contingent, including two Royal New Zealand Air Force (RNZAF) NH90 helicopters and 24 New Zealand Army Light Armoured Vehicles. It will also transport 41 Medium Heavy Operational Vehicles and 28 Light Operational Vehicles from the Army and RNZAF and an Army High Mobility Engineers Excavator.

NZ Light Armoured Vehicles are loaded on to HMNZS Canterbury in preparation for next month’s Exercise Talisman Sabre in Australia.

Once unloaded at Townsville in north Queensland, HMNZS Canterbury will join the AS Amphibious Ready Group.

The RNZAF NH90s will conduct Force Integrated Training on arrival, before deploying to provide air-mobile capability as part of the Talisman Saber Army Aviation Battle Group.

The New Zealand Light Armoured Vehicles and Combat Service Support will form a Combined Arms Task Group, embedding with and fighting alongside the Australian, United States and Canadian armies and providing intelligence, medical, communication, engineering and transport support throughout the exercise.

“Being invited to participate in this exercise shows that New Zealand has a place at the table when it comes to providing war-fighting expertise and support in an international environment,” Major General Gall said.

“While ours is a small defence force, we are still relied upon as a trusted regional partner. Our military relationship with our Australian counterparts started more than 100 years ago and the Anzac spirit is still strong between us. These exercises also allow us to create ongoing working relationships with other participating nations.

“For many of those taking part in Talisman Saber this will be their first taste of war-fighting training in a truly international environment. These training scenarios help ensure our people develop the critical skills and international relationships they will need throughout their careers with the NZDF.”

This is the seventh iteration of the Talisman Saber series of exercises.



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