‘Croix du Sud’ military exercise in New Caledonia Fiji invited as observer
September 5, 2014: SUVA. Military forces from Australia, New Zealand, Canada, United States of America, Tonga, United Kingdom, Vanuatu, Japan and Singapore, have converged in New Caledonia for a French multinational military exercise in the Pacific. Fiji has been invited, as an observer. So was Chile too.
Dubbed as the premier event for the Pacific Armed Forces Training in the Southwest; the exercise Croix du Sud – which means ‘Southern Cross’ in French is a multinational military exercise organized every two years and hosted by the French Armed Forces in New Caledonia (FANC). The main objective of this exercise is to plan, prepare and execute a humanitarian aid and delivery operation and also a Non-combatant Evacuation Operation covering land, air and sea.
About 1500 army, navy and air force personnel - with seven military ships and nine aircrafts - will primarily operate in the islands of Lifou and Tiga as well as at La Foa and at Tontouta airport and from August 25th to September 5th.
Encompassing a full spectrum of scenarios, the participating military personnel and observers will use this biennial exercise as an opportunity to provide realistic training and at the same time, build and cement professional relationships.
Over the years the Croix du Sud exercise has seen several new countries participating and it has grown from a small-scale military exercise, into a complex multinational one.
French Ambassador to Fiji, Gilles Montagnier acknowledged the participation of the Fiji Military Force at this year’s Croix du Sud.
“The French and Fijian armed forces have had a fruitful military cooperation for years and the invitation addressed to Fiji at this particular moment is a clear sign of our wish to rebuild the military relations and greater cooperation between the two countries,” stated Mr Montagnier.
“I think it is extremely important to acknowledge Fiji’s participation at this year’s military exercise, as Fiji plays an influential role in the Pacific region and is recognized in other multinational peacekeeping missions and we are confident that joint efforts and relations can be renewed after the exercise. Speaking about peacekeeping operations, I would also like to reiterate my government wholehearted solidarity with the authorities of Fiji. France condemns the detention of 45 Fijian blue helmets in Golan Heights and calls for the immediate release of the kidnapped” he said.
Staffed with 1850 personnel (including 1600 military) FANC’s primary role is to ensure the sovereignty of France in their area of responsibility. It is strengthened by the armed forces in French Polynesia (about 1400 military personnel).
But exercise Croix du Sud also demonstrates France’s contribution and commitment to humanitarian and disaster relief within the framework stipulated by the FRANZ (France, Australia, and New Zealand) Agreement of 1992. The Agreement commits its signatories to exchange information to ensure the best use of combined assets and other resources for relief operations after cyclones and other natural disasters in the Pacific region.
For instance, peacekeeping and humanitarian missions to the United Nations Integrated Mission in Timor-Leste (UNMIT) in 1998, the tsunami in 2004 and the tropical cyclones in Tonga and Fiji in 2009 and 2010 were strengthened by the FRANZ Agreement. France also played an important role in this framework in Fiji and Tonga in the aftermath of cyclone EVAN (December 2012) and IAN (earlier this year).
This exercise will also give the participating armed forces key opportunities to conduct practical level military engagement with the French Armed Forces.