Public asked to join exercise

By, Kelli Hooks

The New Zealand Army is looking for local volunteers to role play in a large-scale military exercise to be held in Wairarapa.

The exercise will be conducted in May but this week a small team of exercise planners were in the region, looking for suitable areas to establish enemy positions and embedding them into the community.

Training officer Captain Errol Clarke said the army would be involving the local community, where they could, to be role players in the exercise and provide information to intelligence.

"The same way as the police would get information if someone dropped information into the police station," Capt Clarke said.

Exercise Alam Halfa would include about 1200 soldiers, 200 military vehicles and helicopters.

Capt Clarke said the army were looking for about 10 volunteers at this stage.

Linton Military Camp spokeswoman Emma Horsley said the exercise would involve a war-style environment scenario and it was being undertaken to test current systems.

"So we can test our troops, we can test our soldiers, we can test our systems to make sure they are actually working," Mrs Horsley said. She said the community would be called on for volunteers.

"We put them on a team and they're given details of their role."

The military camp is currently in the process of notifying local authorities of the plan to carry out the exercise.

Officials are looking for suitable areas to use, where enemy positions will be established and where large numbers of vehicles and equipment can be held.

"[This is the] first time in five years that the army has conducted an exercise like this in the Wairarapa," Mrs Horsley said.

The exercise will take place from May 18 to 27.

- Wairarapa Times-Age

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