Army cadets prac­tise their peace­keep­ing

South Waikato News - - FRONT PAGE - By ADEN MILES

To passers-by it could have been mis­taken for an in­va­sion.

For the past two weeks the New Zealand Army has been in Man­gakino con­duct­ing a mock peace­keep­ing mis­sion as part of its train­ing.

The ex­er­cise in­volved 42 Cadet stu­dents from Waiouru Army Camp par­tic­i­pat­ing in a com­plex peace-keep­ing sce­nario. It was the first such event the cadets had been in­volved in.

New Zealand Army ed­u­ca­tion of­fi­cer Paul Garner said the sce­nario was con­trolled by of­fi­cials in an op­er­a­tions hub on De­pot Rd.

‘‘The con­cept is like a Le­banon and Is­rael-type of con­flict,’’ Mr Garner said.

‘‘The con­cept is that there is Auck­stan up the north, we are in a coun­try called King Coun­try and down south is Wellystan.

‘‘ The United Na­tions have ap­proved a peace-keep­ing mis­sion to sep­a­rate Auck­stan from King Coun­try.’’

The cadets ar­rived in Man­gakino al­most two weeks ago and left on Sun­day.

The cadets are on a one-year train­ing course and this ex­er­cise was one of the as­sess­ments they had to pass.

Mr Garner said a me­dia team fol­lowed the sol­diers, record­ing ev­ery event to show how they in­ter­act with the me­dia and how sit­u­a­tions are re­ported.

‘‘The guys have found it quite stress­ful even though they have been taught a lot and trained, it is just such a new en­vi­ron­ment. For them to be in pub­lic around peo­ple while they are hold­ing their guns is new to them.

‘‘The pur­pose is to as­sess the of­fi­cer cadets in their com­mand abil­ity and in a com­plex ur­ban en­vi­ron­ment.’’

Role play­ers were also in­volved in­clud­ing mem­bers of the com­mu­nity and army of­fi­cials who had been liv­ing in the town for three weeks.

In or­der for cadets to gather in­for­ma­tion, street pa­trols were per­formed with sol­diers walk­ing around the neigh­bour­hood at night.

The ex­er­cise in Man­gakino has been oc­cur­ring for eight years.

The mis­sion ended on Sun­day.

STAND­ING GUARD: Of­fi­cer Cadet Chris­tian Ja­cob­sen, 20, com­mands his post dur­ing a train­ing op­er­a­tions ex­er­cise in Man­gakino.

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