Photo Information

Participants listen as a Larrakia Aboriginal Nation elder Bilawarra Lee speaks Aug. 29 at Larrakeyah Barracks, Darwin, Northern Territory, Australia, before the start of Exercise Kowari 15. Kowari is a trilateral environmental survival training opportunity hosted by Australia and includes forces from Australia, China and the U.S. simultaneously. Environmental survival training in the Australian Outback offers a unique training opportunity in the Pacific.

Photo by Staff Sgt. Jose O. Nava

Australians welcome participants at the Exercise Kowari 15 opening ceremony

31 Aug 2015 | Staff Sgt. Jose O. Nava U.S. Marine Corps Forces, Pacific

The Australian Defence Force, along with an elder from the Larrakia Aboriginal Nation, formally welcomed the participants of Exercise Kowari 15 in an opening ceremony Aug. 29 at Larrakeyah Barracks, Darwin, Northern Territory, Australia. Kowari 15 will be held from Aug. 29 to Sep. 12 at the Litchfield Area, Northern Territory, Australia.

“Welcome to my saltwater home with friendly people, beautiful beaches and spectacular sunsets,” said the Bilawarra Lee, matriarch with the Larrakia Nation.

Exercise Kowari is a trilateral training opportunity hosted by Australia and is the first environmental survival training among Australian, Chinese and the U.S. participants simultaneously. The inaugural exercise was held in 2014 using the same training area and will bring together soldiers from the Australian Army, U.S. Army and People’s Liberation Army, and U.S. Marines with 1st Battalion, 4th Marine Regiment, Marine Rotational Force – Darwin.

“This is the second iteration of the exercise and it is designed to build off of the success we built together from Exercise Kowari in 2014,” said BRIG Damian Cantwell, commander of Kowari 15.

The participants arrived two days before the ceremony and were given the opportunity to meet and greet one another. One of the events was a cultural experience, enjoying a visit to a local park to see unique Australian animals such as crocodiles. During Kowari 15, the participants will be transported to the Litchfield Area via U.S. Marine Corps CH-53E Super Stallion helicopters with Marine Heavy Helicopter Squadron 463, MRF-D.

“To exercise participants: congratulations on being selected by your commanders for Exercise Kowari, and a very warm welcome on behalf of the Chief of the Australian Army,” said Cantwell.

The Australian-U.S. alliance is an anchor of peace and stability in the Asia-Pacific and Indian Ocean Rim regions, and promotes economic development and integration, good governance and rule of law. Instructors will teach the participants the basic survival techniques, the ability to make tools and how to navigate before going through a multi-day culminating event.

“This is much more than just a field exercise. It has significant international engagement outcomes for each of our three nations,” said Cantwell. “And you all have a key role to play in achieving the individual and broader objectives of this exercise. It’s an opportunity to build mutual trust, friendships, cooperation and understanding both at the individual level and the international level.”

The United States supports the rebalance efforts to the Asia-Pacific, because as a resident Pacific power, the security and prosperity of the Asia-Pacific is vital to our national interests and the interests of the broader international community.
U.S. Marine Corps Forces, Pacific