More than 240 Australian Defence Force (ADF) and Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) personnel have returned from New Caledonia after participating in Exercise Croix du Sud 2023. Led by the French Armed Forces in New Caledonia (FANC), Croix du Sud is a Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief (HADR) multilateral exercise which prepares partner nations to respond to HADR operations in the Pacific region. ADF cooperation with the FANC in New Caledonia is central to our relationship with France in the Pacific, who make important contributions to regional security and stability, particularly in responding to HADR events.
Commander of ADF Operations in the South West Pacific, Major General Scott Winter, AM,said the ADF’s participation in the exercise was important to enhance interoperability between regional partners. “The strategic planning and learning from joint exercises like Croix du Sud enable our forces to effectively work together with France and a wide range of partner nations,” said Winter. “Participating in these regional exercises is part of the ADF’s continuous presence in the region and demonstrates Australia’s enduring commitment to working alongside the Pacific family and partner nations when called upon in times of crisis. The ADF is committed to further strengthening our practical military cooperation with France and regional partners in support of shared interests.”
Croix du Sud 2023 has been the largest in the exercise’s history, with more than 3,000 participants, 10 surface vessels and 15 aircraft from 19 nations responding to a simulated humanitarian crisis.
FANC Commander, Brigadier General Valery Putz, said Australia’s contribution to this year’s exercise was comprehensive and well appreciated. “The ADF contribution to the exercise was significant,” Putz said. “The assets and personnel allowed for a lot of interaction with the FANC and other participants from other nations. Our ability to act together in a coordinated manner for HADR is paramount in the Blue Pacific.”
ADF elements participating in Croix du Sud included a land force drawn from the Australian Army’s 6th Battalion, The Royal Australian Regiment, the Pacific Support Vessel, Australian Defence Vessel (ADV) Reliant embarked with a Royal Australian Navy Clearance Diving Team, and a Royal Australian Air Force C-27J Spartan aircraft. 20 additional personnel participated as members of Exercise Croix du Sud 2023 Headquarters.