US Marines to train in New ZealandVERNON SMALL
New Zealand will host a 35-strong unit of United States Marines later this month during an exercise that confirms the military relationship is almost back on its pre-Anzus footing.
Defence Minister Dr Jonathan Coleman and US Ambassador to Wellington David Huebner announced today that the Defence Force would host the exercise in the central North Island later this month, involving 35 US Marines and 41 US Army personnel.
It will be named Alam Halfa after the site of an NZ Army assault in Egypt in 1942 during the battle of El Alamein.
The US personnel will exercise with members of the New Zealand Army's 1st Brigade.
"This cooperation builds on a pattern of exercises involving New Zealand and US personnel since the signing of the Wellington Declaration in November 2010,'' Coleman said.
It will begin in Linton and Napier on April 26 and end on May 6.
Huebner said both countries were committed "to exploring mutually beneficial areas of cooperation and coordination''.
The breadth and depth of present-day interaction between the two countries was based on a long, uninterrupted history of friendship, he said.
"This year marks 70 years of formal bilateral relations as well as 174 years of American diplomatic presence in Aotearoa. Our relationship has always included mutual support and cooperation on humanitarian, disaster relief, and other security matters."
Huebner said he was looking forward to the centrepiece of the year in June, when the Marine Band and other US Marines would visit to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the arrival of American forces to help defend New Zealand and the South Pacific during World War II.
"How Kiwis and Americans worked together during the dark days of 1942 is a particularly powerful part of our shared history. It is a values-based touchstone as we explore new and innovative ways of expressing that long-standing friendship,'' Huebner said.
The invitation for the US Marines to participate in marking the 70th anniversary was extended when Prime Minister John Key visited President Barack Obama last year.
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