The Vanuatu Mobile Force platoon set a record for best performance in the Croix Du Sud or Southern Cross exercise.
A senior VMF officer, Captain Roy Seule, who was the commander of the platoon which comprises 30 officers in Vanuatu’s paramilitary and Maritime said that this exercise stemmed from an agreement between the VMF and the French Army and is carried out every two years.
“This exercise has brought together 12 countries from across the Pacific including the US and British military and it’s basically training on how to respond to humanitarian need during natural and man-made disaster,” he said.
“It is two week training- we have preparation exercise during the first week and the actual exercise takes place in the second week.”
“The training aims to improve the planning, management and preparation skills of the military forces.”
The platoon Field Commander, Second Lieutenant Johnny Kakor said that during the first week, the officers were trained in using resources and equipment that will be used during the actual exercise.
“We did Medevac exercises on how to secure a patient and putting him on a plane, safety drills on boarding and getting out of a helicopter and other exercises on planning and management,” he said.
Second Lt Johnny Kakor said that on the second week, the platoon went through a series of rebelling and obstacle exercise which took place both on land and on sea and have set a record time of 1hr 24min, second to UK's 1hr 15 minutes.
“We had 12km hill walking which the boys completed as they adapt well to the climate and then we had the range shooting and assault,” he said.
“In the target shooting of 100-450 metres (Sniper target) our first group shot down all targets, so we had to wait for the next targets to be set up for the second time and our last group shot them all, the head of the Company that looked after us said that out of the 12 countries, Vanuatu was the best.”
“We made a record then and for the final exercise of deployment in some areas of Noumea, Yate, Waou and Brony, our boys have set another record to take part in assault in the final attack and we are overwhelmed.”
Cpt Roy Seule said that they were pleased with the results that came out after the Croix Du Sun 2016.
“The boys did very well and I am very proud, other countries have admired their performance. They have put Vanuatu in the spotlight that though we are a small country but we have the best soldiers,” he said.
Acting Commander VMF, Lt Colonel Terry Tulang confirmed that the platoon have performed exceptionally well.
“I am very pleased with the overall performance of the platoon, they performed outstandingly and topped the rifle shooting, and I know that the boys have learned new skills to improve and provide better security for our country, we are looking forward to another Croix du Sud in 2018,” he said.
The Acting Commander confirmed that training was funded by the France government and travelling costs and accommodation is covered by the host country.
Second Lt Kakor pointed out the that wellbeing and welfare of the officers was more important and that government and relevant authorities should put more work into making sure that VMF officers were well equipped and given support during such excursions.
“We did not match up with the countries with our equipment as we lack Coms (communications), which we had to borrow for use during the exercise and that didn’t give a good image about us,” he said.
“When we do not have enough resources, the boys do not have the moral to perform well against their counterparts and communication is very important in the field to the headquarters so if there is no Com things cannot go accordingly.”
Cpt Seule said that if the VMF is well equipped for this exercise, the officers will do their best to their ability and everyone has to work together to improve communication within the force.
“The VMF platoon proved that Vanuatu can be part of a coalition force to provide humanitarian assistance,” he said.