Exercise Olgeta Warrior 2015 was the largest ever conducted and featured more than 1,000 Australian Defence Force (ADF) and Papua New Guinea Defence Force (PNGDF) personnel.
Funded under Australia’s $37 million Defence Cooperation Program with Papua New Guinea, the exercise— an infantry foundation warfighting activity—has been the primary ADF–PNGDF exercise since 2009. The exercise has since broadened in scope to solidify ADF and PNGDF relations and include developmental programs involving PNGDF engineering, infantry, logistics and planning capabilities—as well as continuing to enhance ADF–PNGDF interoperability.
Mounted annually through the Australian Army’s 3rd Brigade in Townsville, the exercise consists of five component exercises: Wantok Warrior, Puk Puk, Gudpela Plan, Kumul Exchange and Logi Tura.
From August to October 2015, Exercise Puk Puk was held at Taurama Barracks, Port Moresby. More than 150 troops from the 3rd Combat Engineer Regiment worked side by side with more than 200 PNGDF soldiers from 1st Battalion, Royal Pacific Islands Regiment and the PNGDF’s Engineering Battalion to upgrade soldier and working accommodation. Personnel from the United States Marine Corps and the British Army also participated in Exercise Puk Puk.
Exercise Wantok Warrior occurred from September to October 2015 at Moem Barracks, Wewak. During this exercise, soldiers from 1st Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment worked alongside their PNGDF counterparts from 2nd Battalion, Royal Pacific Islands Regiment on profession of arms training, including patrolling, evasion, and search and rescue serials in an amphibious setting.
Exercises Kumul Exchange and Logi Tura occurred from April to May 2016 at Headquarters 3rd Brigade, Townsville. These exercises focused on developing conventional warfighting and logistics capabilities. During this period, PNGDF personnel were embedded within 1st and 3rd Battalions, Royal Australian Regiment, the 3rd Combat Service Support Battalion and the 3rd Combat Engineer Regiment, and conducted logistical planning activities, engineering courses and infantry skills training.
Led by 3rd Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment, Exercise Gudpela Plan occurred at Murray Barracks, Port Moresby, in May 2016. This planning exercise focused on enhancing the PNGDF’s operational and tactical-level planning skills using a variety of threat scenarios that could present themselves during the Asia–Pacific Economic Cooperation forum meetings that Papua New Guinea will host in 2018.
A number of mentoring training teams complemented Olgeta Warrior exercises throughout 2015–16. The teams provided deliberate mentoring and training to the PNGDF by ADF subject matter experts in areas such as officer training, recruit instruction, combat engineering logistics, planning and infantry skills.
Because there is a continuous cycle of mentoring training teams deploying into Papua New Guinea throughout the calendar year, this enduring ADF presence in-country facilitates an effective engagement program that continues to build professionalism, leadership, discipline and military capability.
Mentoring training teams have proven to be an invaluable method for strengthening ADF–PNGDF cooperation—with tangible benefits including the strengthening of individual and collective people-to-people links between both defence forces.