NEW ZEALAND -- Soldiers from 2nd Battalion, 14th Cavalry Regiment, 2nd Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division traveled to New Zealand for the month of November to participate in Southern Katipo 2013 with U.S. Pacific Command forces and New Zealand Defense Force personnel.

Southern Katipo 13 is a multinational military training exercise on the North and South Island of New Zealand lasting from Nov. 4-29. The exercise is designed to enhance military-to-military relations between participating forces while supporting the development of the host nation's amphibious capabilities.

"To get an idea of the magnitude, Southern Katipo 13 is the largest joint training operation the New Zealand military has ever hosted," said 1st Lt. Bryce Land, 2-14th Cav. Liaison Officer for American Army Support units.

Approximately 80 Marines from I Marine Expeditionary Force and 73 Soldiers from 2-14th Cav. participated in the exercise.

"Operation Southern Katipo designed to improve joint coordination between American services and foreign militaries as part of the Joint Inter Agency Task Force," said Maj. Jeffery Hinds, 2-14th Cav. operations officer.

The JIATF includes forces from Australia, Canada, France, Malaysia, Papua New Guinea, Singapore, Tonga and the U.S. Army and Marine Corps. Part of the training includes shipboard familiarization to increase the capabilities of maritime Soldiers and systems on international ships.

"Our headquarters units will engage in long-term planning and quick reaction force development," said Sgt. Daniel Nguyendo, an intelligence analyst with 2-14th Cav. "Every nation is working to streamline the multinational functions in the Pacific. Our entire maneuver is based around an amphibious operation consisting of the rapid offload of personnel and equipment, timed rehearsals, timed disaster responses and even the seizure of a town on shore. After we've completed the direct mission, then we move into reconstitution operations."

Soldiers and Marines have also been briefed on foreign military customs and cultural norms so they can internalize the impact of joint cooperation in the Pacific. This year marks the 70th anniversary of the 2nd Marine Division beach landings at Mahia Peninsula. U.S. Marines trained in New Zealand prior to their island-hopping campaign northwards across the Pacific which led to the defeat of the Japanese empire in World War II.

"The U.S. military and the Kiwi Forces share a historic bond as coalition partners," said Warrant Officer 2 Richard Long, sergeant major of Training and Doctrine Headquarters for the New Zealand army. "We've been sweating and bleeding together since World War II. We've even fought alongside the U.S. in operations in Korea, Vietnam, the Gulf War and still have soldiers conducting missions in Afghanistan."

Amongst the junior ranks, Soldiers worked together to develop lasting relationships. After a pickup game of basketball, Aircraftsman Shane Brewer of the Royal New Zealand Air Force revealed how the tradition is being kept alive.

"I've been looking forward to seeing our mates from across the world … I'm just set and ready for my side of the mission, Kiwi Flag," said Brewer.

Kiwi Flag 2013 is the name of the Royal New Zealand Air Force's mission to conduct air lift operations in support of Southern Katipo.

"Southern Katipo is a realistic and challenging exercise that brings service members closer together while improving all partner nations' ability to work multilaterally," said Hinds. "At the end of the day, we're training ourselves to build better international relationships and cooperate more efficiently."