NZ army cadets benefit from survival exercise with Fijian military

A group of New Zealand soldiers in training said they found “incredibly beneficial” a three-day RFMF-run survival exercise where they were placed in the jungle with minimal equipment and no food.

Over the three days, the soldiers from the Officer Cadet School (OCS) of New Zealand learned how to live off the land and fend for themselves in the bush.

The OCS students are in Fiji for July, using the Nausori Highlands to conduct integrated close-country training with the RFMF, one of which is the Exercise Veiliutaki, which is designed to test students in command, leadership and battlecraft in a jungle environment.

Captain Jonty Hooson, Senior Instructor of the Field Wing at OCS, said 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, a statement from the NZ Embassy in Fiji said.

“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 got 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. 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.

Captions: Officer Cadet School of New Zealand students have learned new survival skills from their Fijian military counterparts during three days in the Fijian bush. Photo credit: RFMF

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