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Army September 17, 2009
SOLDIERS were part of the 500-strong
ADF contingent to join the largest joint
military exercise held with PNG since
it gained independence 34 years ago.
The Australian personnel were
deployed with PNG Defence Force
(PNGDF) members on Exercise Olgeta
Warrior 2009 late last month.
Many of them made the two-day
journey to PNG from Townsville aboard
The activity aimed to increase the
interoperability between the two forces
to enhance regional security and increase
the ability to provide humanitarian aid
and disaster relief at short notice.
5 and 6 Avn Regt took part in the
exercise, adding a third aircraft to the
ship's aviation detachment.
Capt Brad Stoker, a pilot with 5 Avn
Regt who clocked up his 1000 flying
hours during the exercise, said the primary
mission for the detachment was to conduct
high-density altitude training in PNG.
"This exercise was known as Ex
Helicon Luk. We had a secondary mis-
sion of providing air-mobile support to
the Amphibious Task Group during the
latter part of Ex Olgeta Warrior," he said.
"Deck-landing qualifications were
conducted during the first few days of
sailing to Port Moresby and then during
the sail to the port of Madang."
Capt Stoker said Ex Helicon Luk was
traditionally a land-based exercise for the
Black Hawk crews.
"This was the first time many [avia-
tion] personnel operated as an embarked
entity," he said.
"It provided significant challenges
to both RAEME and log Ops aviation
streams. While challenging and unique,
this was valuable experience to take away
for future embarked operations."
Other Army personnel on HMAS
Kanimbla lived alongside, and worked in
a number of roles with, Navy personnel.
It was the first time some of them had
lived on a ship. Cpl Cameron McIntosh,
HQ 3 Bde, said working on the ship was
a unique experience.
"Prior to leaving Townsville, I was
unsure what to expect when we board-
ed," he said. "It took a couple of days to
get used to the ship's routine, especially
sleeping snugly in a rack.
"It became an acquired skill to
squeeze through the hatches and deci-
phering the Navy speak constantly being
In ship shape
broadcast around the ship was interest-
ing." His conclusion, though, was "life at
Personnel also had the opportunity to
go ashore and mix with PNGDF mem-
bers and the local population.
Capt Jessica Cordy, HQ 3 Bde, said
many personnel joined in cultural and
recreational activities when the ship
anchored in the port of Madang.
"This included going to local markets,
kayaking, swimming, going to church
services and getting out and about to see
local memorials," she said.
"This was a great way for ADF mem-
bers to interact with the local commu-
nity and experience the diverse culture
High time: 5 Avn
Regt pilot Maj
2000 flying hours
while on HMAS
Kanimbla during Ex
Olgeta Warrior, and
colleague Capt Brad
Stoker racked up his
Get your rotor running: 6 Avn Regt technicians work on a Black Hawk aboard HMAS Kanimbla during Ex Olgeta Warrior. Photos by AB James Whittle
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