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Surviving Exercise Kowari


A second Exercise Kowari—a trilateral survival training exercise designed to build cooperation, friendship and trust between Australia, China and the United States—was conducted near Daly River in the nation’s Top End in September 2015.

Australian Army soldier Lance Corporal Vinnie Rami (left) guides US Army soldier Sergeant First Class Adam Marques (right) through creating fire using the traditional 'drill' method during Exercise Kowari 2015 in the Daly River region, Northern Territory, Australia
Australian Army soldier Lance Corporal Vinnie Rami (left) guides US Army soldier Sergeant First Class Adam Marques (right) through creating fire using the traditional 'drill' method during Exercise Kowari 2015 in the Daly River region, Northern Territory, Australia

This year’s exercise involved 30 military personnel from three nations working closely together in the harsh Australian outback. Soldiers were taught basic survival principles, procedures and techniques, and how to use equipment to enhance survival prospects in the unforgiving Australian environment. The Australian Army’s 2nd Division led the exercise with the North-West Mobile Force (NORFORCE) responsible for the survival-training phase.

The exercise comprised ten soldiers from the Australian Army, ten from China’s People’s Liberation Army, five from the United States Army and five from the US Marine Corps. A further 100 military personnel provided support in liaison and logistics roles. Participants spent a five-day period surviving with only basic tools. They had to hunt their own food, work out how to cook it and build their own shelter.

The Commander of the Australian Army’s 1st Division and Deployable Joint Force Headquarters, Major General Paul McLachlan, explained that the aim of Kowari was for the Chinese, US and Australian forces to come together in a demanding environment and develop trust, cooperation and friendship.

‘Soldiers know better than most that understanding and trust is best developed through shared adversity … this is the foundation for the armies of all of our nations to come together to be better friends and to work with each other for the benefit of our region’, Major General McLachlan said.

Major General Han Peng from the People’s Liberation Army said, ‘[We] wouldn’t have had this success without the good cooperation and common efforts made by the 30 participants’.

‘Kowari lets us believe that our three nations, our will and our people can integrate well to handle any difficulties or challenges.’

‘Congratulations to all of you, and I hope that Kowari can [continue to] achieve success and make our friendships last forever’, he said.

The Chief of Staff, US Army Pacific, Major General Todd McCaffrey, also praised the exercise.

‘Exercises such as this one are magnificent ways to build the personal relationships that promote cooperation between three leading nations in the global community’, he said.

The exercise was a resounding success and its value in building relations between the three participating countries was evident for all participants at the end of the exercise.