Australian army lauds "courage" of Chinese soldiers during joint training exercises

Source:China Military Online Editor:Zhang Tao 2017-08-31

by Levi J Parsons

SYDNEY, Aug. 31 (Xinhua) -- The Australian Army has heralded the "courage" of Chinese soldiers, after a six-day trilateral training mission that also included the United States wrapped up in Cairns, Australia.

Now in its fourth year, exercise Kowari aims to strengthen defense cooperation between the three countries, as well as enhance mutual understanding and friendship between its participants.

In total, three teams of 10 soldiers from each nation were chosen to take part, but unlike previous years which focused on survival training in Australia's Northern Territory and included activities like hunting crocodiles, this year in Cairns was all about adventure.

"On this exercise we had people hiking across Bartle Frere (Queensland State's tallest Mountain)," Brigadier Neil Sweeney of the Australian Defense Force (ADF) told Xinhua on Tuesday.

"We have had people sea kayaking, we've had them white-water rafting and we have also had a canyoning episode, where people have got to canyon down a waterfall."

"It's really important we build skills like resilience, the ability to overcome fear, the ability to work in a complex environment and to build teams in an environment such as white-water rafting or sea kayaking."

In contrast to more traditional joint military exercises where nations compete against one another, in order to test their capabilities, Kowari participants have to work with each other to overcome challenges.

"Each and every team has faced the challenges head on, they all learnt new skills and they have all made a lot of friends in the process," Sweeney said.

"They're particularly challenging activities for everyone," he said. "The Chinese soldiers, the U.S. soldiers and indeed the ADF soldiers have done a fantastic job."

In particular, Sweeney noted that he was especially impressed with the bravery shown by the Chinese soldiers during the training.

One activity, aimed at growing confidence, tasked participants with leaping off a 10-meter high rock face into waters below.

After seeing "zero hesitation" before the jump, one Australian officer described the Chinese as "fearless" after this activity.

"So the People's Liberation Army (PLA) soldiers have been fantastic in showing their courage here, from the courage that is built into their own training."

Major General Zhang Haiqing, deputy commander of the army troops under the PLA's Southern Theater Command, also told Xinhua that he was very pleased with the outcome of training in Australia.

"The programs are well-designed to challenge and enhance each soldier's ability, duration, endurance and strength as well as forge friendship and mateship in the testing Australian environment," he said.

Sentiments that were also echoed by the United States.

"I think exercise Kowari is a great opportunity for everyone who took part in it, not just to demonstrate the ability for teamwork and camaraderie across countries, but just getting through these things together and strengthening relations with continued defense cooperation." Major Matthew Wesmiller from the U.S. Army said.

For those involved, Kowari 2017 was made all the more special with the inclusion of female soldiers for the first time.

"It's excellent to see us broadening the scope of the exercise and we will continue to do that into the future, so both the U.S., the Chinese and the ADF have had female soldiers on our exercise and it's been great to see them out there pushing the guys along 100 percent all the way," Sweeney said.