Tonga training a first for Army
More than 100 soldiers from five nations took to the battlefield in Tongatapu, Tonga’s largest island, for the Exercise Tafakula.
The Australian contingent of 14 soldiers and two officers broke new ground as the first Army personnel to participate in the biennial Tongan-led exercise.
After completing integrated training and engagement opportunities, soldiers then faced a number of practical scenarios that gave the opportunity to work in multinational teams.
Participating forces included His Majesty’s Armed Forces of Tonga (HMAF), the New Zealand Defence Force, the New Caledonian Armed Forces, the United States’ Nevada National Guard and US Marine Corps.
Private Matt Cleaver, of the 4th/3rd Battalion, Royal NSW Regiment, said the exercise was a great opportunity to mix with soldiers from other nations in a new location and hone their skills together.
“The exercise showed that we can work together with other nations and increase interoperability,” Private Cleaver said.
“The language barrier was a challenge but our overseas counterparts are really knowledgeable so we pushed through and created some bonds.”
Soldiers travelling to Tonga had the chance to enjoy beautiful scenery and welcoming hospitality.
“Tonga is absolutely beautiful,” Private Cleaver said.
“It’s a great experience, when you’re driving down the street and the kids and locals are waving to you.”