NORTHERN TERRITORY, Australia —The Australian Defence Force is hosting the third iteration of Exercise Kowari 2016, a trilateral survival training exchange, from August 27 to September 9. Participants from the U.S. Marine Corps and Army, the Australian Army, and the People’s Liberation Army took the challenge to survive inside the outback around Northern Territory, Australia.
This exercise is the first land-based trilateral military exercise involving soldiers and Marines from the United States, Australia, and China. They will be mixed into teams consisting of members from each country.
“I’ve worked with the Australians but not with the Chinese,” said Lance Cpl. Joseph L. Painter, a U.S. Marine participant with Marine Rotational Force – Darwin. “I’m definitely going to enjoy working with these guys.”
The North-West Mobile Force, a regional force surveillance unit of the Australian Army located in Darwin, contains survival training experts of the Northern Territory. Their expertise comes from deep connections to the indigenous culture of Australia. They will provide participants with training and instruction to help them survive upcoming harsh conditions including blistering heat, scarce food and water, and Australian wildlife.
“The instructors have a wealth of knowledge and they’ll definitely teach us the right things we need to know,” said Pvt. Adam P. Kingston, an Australian Army soldier participant. “Whether we will be able to apply them or not is another story.”
Participants not only have to survive, they must also learn how to cooperate together and overcome challenges such as language barriers and cultural differences.
“It’s very interesting because it’s three different countries with three different cultures,” said Pvt. Zeyu Zhao, an Australian Army translator for Exercise Kowari. “I really want to see what they accomplish together.”
So far, participants have gone through introductions, team building, cultural training and an opening ceremony where they received their Exercise Kowari 2016 patches.
“Very few people have received this patch so it was an honor,” said Painter, from Nixa, Missouri. “I’m only one in 90 apparently, so it’s a big deal to me.”
Up next, participants will be left at the training area for the survival exercise without food, water, or shelter.
“We’ve had food and sleep deprivation training,” said Kingston, from Perth, Western Australia. “But never anything on this sort of level where we’ve had absolutely nothing.”
The purpose of the training is to enhance the three countries’ trust, friendship, and trilateral cooperation in the Indo-Asia-Pacific region.
The U.S. Marines participating are with Marine Rotational Force – Darwin, a six-month deployment of Marines into Darwin, Australia, where they conduct exercises and train with the Australian Defence Forces. The U.S. Army soldiers are with 25th Infantry Division from Hawaii. The Australian Army soldiers are with all from different units and job fields.Thirty participants from three different countries must learn to work together to survive without any food, water or shelter in the Australian outback.