Military forces from five countries are taking part in an 11-day multilateral military-to-military training exercise called Exercise Cartwheel at the military training facility in Fiji.
Republic of Fiji Military along with Australian, New Zealand, United States and British forces are training together and are hoping to build expeditionary readiness and interoperability within the defence forces.
During his opening remarks, US Navy Commander Victor Lange, senior defence at the US Embassy in Fiji, expanded on the genesis of the exercise moniker.
“The name of this exercise originates in Operation Cartwheel, a major military operation for the Allies in the Pacific during World War II,” said Mr Lange.
“In Operation Cartwheel, forces from the U.S., New Zealand, Australia, and Fiji joined by other Pacific Island nations, fought side by side to neutralize the Japanese base at Rabaul, Papua New Guinea.”
The reason behind the exercise is to increase the capacity of the forces to face a crisis and contingencies by developing and stressing units at the highest training levels.
Major armed powers of the world are quickly choosing their sides and their strategic competition to try and rope in the Pacific nations who could prove to be allies should a conflict from either Ukraine-Russia or China-Taiwan spill over into the Pacific.
Most of the military and defence based projects in the Pacific are being funded by the US and Australia.
The training facility in Nadi was funded to the tune of AU$60 million by the Australian Government which has committed more towards a new naval headquarters.
From the US, the 3rd Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division, supported by Army Reserve 797th Engineers, 402nd Forward Resuscitative Surgical Team, and 343rd Mobile Public Affairs Detachment, will partner with Republic of Fiji Military Forces, Australian, New Zealand, and British Soldiers during the 11-day exercise.
Soldiers will train on urban, rappelling, and jungle operations with opportunities for unit ministry teams, medical teams, and engineers to trade best practices simultaneously.
The opening ceremony was done in true Pacific style with the traditions and cultures of the land honoured in a kava ceremony.
Members of the New Zealand army, led by Warrant Officer Class One Chad Dewes, assigned to the 1st New Zealand Brigade, gave thanks through song, and summed up the opening ceremony.
“We are here to build relationships and to work hard in beautiful Fiji,” said Mr Dewes.