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Source: MIL-OSI Submissions
Source: New Zealand Defence Force

Learning how to live off the land and fend for themselves in the bush are just some of the new skills a group of New Zealand soldiers have learned from Republic of Fiji Military Forces (RFMF) experts in Fiji.

The Officer Cadet School (OCS) of New Zealand is currently taking part in Exercise Veiliutaki, which is designed to test students in command, leadership and battlecraft in a jungle environment.

The OCS students are in Fiji for July, using the Nausori Highlands to conduct integrated close-country training with the RFMF.

During this time they undertook a three-day RFMF-run survival training exercise where they were placed into the jungle with minimal equipment and no food.

Captain Jonty Hooson, Senior Instructor of the Field Wing at OCS, said the survival exercise was incredibly beneficial and the cadets really enjoyed it.

They learned how to set up traps and snares, how to light a fire without matches, what was edible in the jungle, how to collect water, build a shelter, what was needed in a survival kit and how to use those items.

“This portion of the exercise provided really valuable skills. They caught eels, shrimp, fresh water lobster, and learned more about one another,” Captain Hooson said.

“By exposing our cadets to this environment they proved that they can survive with minimal equipment. Our cadets are better people after conducting the integration and survival exercise. They are learning to accept different cultures and different customs and are gaining knowledge from RFMF about how to use natural resources.”

Captain Hooson said it was also beneficial for the RFMF instructors as they didn’t often get to teach their skills to people outside their own organisation.

For the duration of Exercise Veiliutaki, 72 RFMF personnel are integrated with 90 New Zealand soldiers and four international students from Tonga and Fiji.

This exercise re-affirms long-standing relationships with the Fijian military through combined jungle training, battle craft and cultural exchanges, while testing the Officer Cadets in command and leadership.

Every year the OCS conducts a field training exercise with a close partner nation as part of the New Zealand Commissioning Course.  The exercise is focused on military leadership, command, and field training that seeks to enhance compatibility and maintain genuine partnerships.

Each exercise focuses on the Pacific or South East Asian regions and has previously been held in Fiji, Brunei, Samoa, Tonga and Papua New Guinea.