New Zealand's recently appointed Chief of the Defence Force (CDF), Lieutenant General (LTGEN) Tim Keating, MNZN, took time to visit the Western Pacific Naval Symposium (WPNS) Mine Countermeasures and Diving Exercise 2014 (MCMEX14) as it kicked off in earnest this week.
After a week of intense planning among the multinational representatives participating in MCMEX 14, the 600+ combined forces mobilised by land and sea to commence operations, with the Command Task Group operating from HMNZS Canterbury.
LTGEN Keating was briefed on the planning and progress of the exercise before taking the opportunity to speak with representatives from many of the nation’s participating.
“This exercise is invaluable for all 14 nations involved. It enables our Navies to enhance humanitarian and disaster relief responses, while strengthening ties between our nations,” said LTGEN Keating.
Coordinating an exercise with a diverse selection of nation’s participating, requires long hours and patience from a dedicated team. Heading up the MCMEX14 Command Task Group (CTG) is Captain Lance Cook, DSD, RNZN who is pleased with the progress of all the teams involved.
“Despite the challenges of working in a multi-national environment, all the teams are maintaining an impressive level of professionalism. A good sense of humour and tolerance is essential in addressing any language issues. Fortunately, we all speak Navy,” CAPT Cook said.
Appointed as the CTG Chief of Staff, Commander (CMDR) Max Muller, CSM, RAN, ensures he keeps his finger on the pulse of the exercise and the information flowing at a rapid rate.
“Exercises with our neighbours are an important component of Australia's contribution to regional security. The lessons we take away from our experiences here are vital to how we handle ourselves when responding to situations at home and abroad. Our ability to plan and execute missions swiftly and efficiently is critical,” said CMDR Muller.
The exercise scenario simulates tsunami devastation to a coastal island also experiencing civil unrest in the aftermath. Joint Mine Warfare and Dive teams ensure coastal channels are clear of mines and debris to allow access for humanitarian aid and disaster relief. Australia has contributed over 100 RAN personnel to the exercise from the Dive and Mine Countermeasure Force elements, including HMA Ships Gascoyne and Huon. The MCMEX14 concludes 7 March.