About 50 personnel from the Australian Army’s 3rd Brigade spent two months providing training to the Papua New Guinea Defence Force (PNGDF) to enhance stability operations in the lead-up to the country’s next national elections.

The training teams, based in Port Moresby and Wewak until recently, focused on collaboratively designing and implementing a training package alongside PNGDF from the Engineer Battalion and 1st and 2nd Royal Pacific Islands Regiments as part of Exercise Olgeta Warrior 2022.

Lieutenant Hugh Emmett, from the 2nd Cavalry Regiment, said it was important in the first few days to focus on collaboration and building mutual rapport with the PNGDF.

“This was an important step in working alongside and empowering their non-commissioned officers,” Lieutenant Emmett said.

“It was really important for us to support and help to build the process within training and operations cells – working out cooperatively what the PNGDF needed and what they wanted their training to be.

“Once training started everyone was really excited and receptive to it.”

Adding to the experience was the involvement of personnel from the British Army’s 2nd Royal Gurkha Rifles and US Army’s Wisconsin National Guard.

Lieutenant Emmett said the knowledge imparted by the eight 2nd Royal Gurkha Rifles soldiers was unique.

“They’re based out of Brunei and are experts in jungle warfare, but were also really good at sharing their skills in the urban environment,” Lieutenant Emmett said.

For all of us this kind of training with 2nd Royal Gurkha Rifles was a unique and valuable opportunity."

In contrast the 12 Wisconsin National Guard personnel filled roles like military and civilian policing.

Lieutenant Emmett said the specialist knowledge was valuable.

“They were able to provide advice around search techniques and different ways of processing detainees and the associated paperwork, which was helpful,” he said.

“They also taught ways to escalate and de-escalate force to avoid taking a heavy-handed approach in the first instance.”

Lieutenant Emmett said working closely with the PNGDF and counterparts from the UK and US was rewarding.

“We learnt a lot working with the PNGDF and what works for different cultures and their forces,” he said.

“While I had an idea of what to expect before arriving, my experiences on the ground and the people we worked with made this exercise an unforgettable opportunity.”

Exercise Olgeta Warrior is a long-standing 10-month activity, during which Australian military training teams deploy to PNG to support infantry training cooperation.