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New Zealand defence forces hold military exercise

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Soldiers disembark from HMNZS Canterbury in Napier. An MoD photo

WAIOURU, NEW ZEALAND (BNS): The Army, Navy and Air Force of New Zealand are holding a major military exercise in the central North Island near the Pacific Ocean since April 26.

The ten day-long drill, codenamed Alam Halfa, involving 1500 personnel including maritime, land and airmobile forces, is one of the largest military exercise conducted by the NZ Defence Forces in the last 15 years.

"This is the biggest exercise involving all three Services of the Defence Force since the Exercise Green Fern series in 1997/98," the Army Brigade Commander Colonel Chris Parsons said.

"These exercises form a vital part of the NZ Army's operational cycle. They allow us to prepare for a variety of likely contingencies to ensure that New Zealand can play its part in our region or around the globe reducing conflict and improving stability," he said.

Several hundred personnel from the NZ Army's 2/1 Battalion, based in Burnham Military Camp, arrived in the Port of Napier earlier this week, disembarking from the amphibious sealift ship HMNZS Canterbury. This coincided with the arrival of over 900 personnel from Linton Military Camp who travelled by road, the Defence Ministry said.

The majority of the exercise will be conducted within the Waiouru Military Training Area. The Army troops will be supported by Navy ships and Air Force helicopters.

Over 70 troops from the US Army and Marine Corps are also taking part in the exercise which will conclude on May 6.

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