NZ Defence Minister observes SK13 at ground level
By Cpl. Scott Reel
| U.S. Marine Corps Forces, Pacific | November 21, 2013
TIMARU, New Zealand --
camp Pendleton marines
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Dr. Jonathan Coleman, New Zealand Defence Minister, toured the Combined Joint Inter-Agency Task Force headquarters during exercise Southern Katipo 2013 at Timaru Airfield, New Zealand, Nov. 15.
“It’s a large complex exercise,” Coleman said. “It’s the biggest multinational exercise for New Zealand for at least 30 years. There will be a number of lessons learned out of it, how well our coordinating mechanisms work and what state they’re at.”
As an important part of the exercise and New Zealand Defence Force, the ground forces had a chance to interact and show their contributions to the distinguished visitor.
“It means a lot for the Minister to come down,” said Wing Commander Darryl Cockroft, commanding officer of 209 Expeditionary Support Squadron. “It gives us the opportunity to engage with him and really emphasize where we’re making efficiencies and how, in this current military environment, we’re working better as single services with each other.”
The variety of experience invited to participate in SK13 gives each service more efficient execution techniques.
“Our task is getting the three forces working together as one, the air force, navy and army, which is the way ahead for the Defence Force,” Coleman said.
Dr. Coleman toured the airfield and many of its complex components, shaking hands with service members and listening to their standard operating procedures.
“He’s a very engaging minister, one of our more focused and interactive Ministers of Defence that we’ve had for some time,” Cockroft said. “He’s the sort of guy that wants to hear it from the ground up and get the feel for what is happening. He listens to people, and he takes it on board too, that’s the thing that has impressed me most about him.”
The tour was just as productive for the service members as the Minister of Defence, who took notes and listened as the commanding officers of each unit presented their plans for the exercise.
The New Zealand Defence Force’s recent increased presence in south Canterbury also builds links within the community, Coleman said. The Defence Force has the opportunity to show its capabilities to the people as not only a sense of security, but pride in those who serve for New Zealand.