Operations shift from sea to land in SK13
By Cpl. Scott Reel
| U.S. Marine Corps Forces, Pacific | November 21, 2013
TIMARU, New Zealand --
camp Pendleton marines
I Marine Expeditionary Force
linton military camp
Marine Forces Pacific
new Zealand defense force
Joint and coalition forces participating in exercise Southern Katipo 2013 successfully complete an amphibious landing and move inland to set up a headquarters center aboard Timaru, New Zealand, Nov. 12.
Maj. William Allen, executive officer for 3rd Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment, is the commander of the Special Purpose Marine Air-Ground Task Force during SK13 and helped coordinate the amphibious landing conducted Nov. 9.
“It was a very successful amphibious operation for the Kiwis,” Allen said.
A few of the nations participating in the exercise were tasked with support and instructor roles based on their amphibious experiences.
“For the New Zealand Defence Force, this is our first big amphibious exercise,” said Lt. Mike Read, assistant plans officer with 1 Battalion Royal Infantry Regiment. “Launching a battalion battle-group sized element into a country is a pretty big milestone for us moving forward.”
The Marine Corps, known for their amphibious capabilities and background, was expected to play a sizeable role in the beach landing and movement inland.
“From the initial planning conferences, the indications were that we would be more of an instructor role with the amphibious operations,” Allen said. “The thing that really surprised me the most was that their understanding of our techniques and procedures has been top notch. It’s really been more working side-by-side rather than any mentorship.”
Nearly a dozen countries are participating in the exercise in various roles, bringing to the table an array of specialties.
“They have all of this experience from that amphibious realm that we don’t yet have,” Read said. “The knowledge from all of the different nations is very beneficial.”
Many of the participants are broken up into small, specialized sections intended to work alongside the New Zealand Defence Force as well as provide knowledge and mentorship.
“Actually, it’s pretty amazing to see the other nations plug in. It’s very much plug and play,” Allen said. “The nations that are participating are eager to be here, and the sharing of information between the different branches of service and nations has been incredible.”
Joining a handful of different militaries in an unfamiliar environment requires a base level of understanding between every party in order to act as one force during a theatre environment.
“I think it gives that interoperability between different services and different nations so that when we do respond to something permissive or non-permissive our headquarters are seamless,” Allen said. “That means the troops on the ground can execute orders they are familiar with and can be confident in no matter what uniform is giving them.”
However, the mission of SK13 demands countries to overcome their differences in both language and procedures in order to achieve this goal of effective interoperability.
“There’s different words or acronyms that we use, but it’s all talking about doing the same job,” Read said. “It doesn’t matter what uniform you’re wearing or what country you’re from, we can plug someone in and fill the part.”
The joint and coalition task forces are moving inland to conduct a variety of field operations over the next few weeks of the exercise simulating real world events.