For the first time NZ Defence Force health personnel are joining their counterparts from the People’s Liberation Army China and the Australian Defence Force to build linkages around humanitarian assistance and disaster relief operations.
Seven Defence Force personnel are participating in Exercise Cooperation Spirit 2012, which is being hosted by the Australian Defence Force (ADF) from 29 October to 2 November. It aims to further develop relationships, interoperability and is focused on responses to humanitarian crisis.
Cooperation Spirit 2012 builds on the respective humanitarian assistance and disaster relief (HADR) experiences of the three nations and will help enhance relationships and mutual understanding and awareness of HADR health response capabilities, says Senior National Officer, Lieutenant Colonel Chris Mitchell of the NZ Army.
“This is the Defence Force’s first significant HADR engagement exercise with the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) China,” he says. “The NZ Defence Force has a good relationship with our international partners and it’s important for us to work closely to build interoperability so we can perform tasks together when required.
“Participating in exercises like Cooperation Spirit 2012 enables the NZ Defence Force to prepare for a variety of contingencies to ensure that New Zealand can play its part in working with other nations to respond effectively to humanitarian aid and disaster relief events, and contributing to regional peace and stability.”
As part of Exercise Cooperation Spirit 2012, a number of HADR experiences will be shared, including a Defence Force presentation on the Christchurch earthquake response. The exercise also involves a discussion based table top planning activity, a HADR Multinational Medical Unit capability demonstration, as well as a tour of flood-affected areas of Brisbane.
The ADF previously conducted a HADR planning exercise with the PLA in April 2010 and the NZ Defence Force sent an observer, the PLA China hosted Exercise Cooperation Spirit 2011 last November. Approximately 30 personnel from the PLA China and 24 personnel from the ADF will participate in Exercise Cooperation Spirit 2012.