NAUSORI HIGHLANDS TRAINING AREA, Fiji – Partner nation forces exchanged best practices during American led jungle training as part of Exercise Carthwheel at Nausori Highlands Training Area, Fiji, September 17, 2022.
Exercise Cartwheel is a multilateral military-to-military training exercise with the U.S., Republic of Fiji Military, Australian, New Zealand, and British forces that builds expeditionary readiness and interoperability by increasing the capacity to face a crisis and contingencies by developing and stressing units at the highest training levels.
Soldiers assigned to B Company, 2nd Battalion, 27th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division focused on jungle tactics, rappelling, and situational training exercise lanes during the 11 day exercise. Though led by U.S. forces, information flowed both ways, allowing all participants to experience new ways to complete tasks.
Sgt. Jacob Miller, a squad leader assigned to B Co., 2-27 IN noticed that how countries handled various situations were only slightly different.
“They have quite the same tactics we do,” said Miller. “I think that over the many years of partnership, we’ve kind of used all we have taught each other, made it our own, and then brought it back with just a couple tweaks here and there.”
A common thread among all participating forces is that rehearsal and practice makes more fluid maneuvers. Spc. Connor MacDowell, a team leader with B Co., 2-27 IN, said these jungle maneuver drills breed future success through repetition and familiarity.
“Instead of a thought process, it can go into a muscle memory,” said MacDowell. “So we can effectively execute that quickly, without thinking about it and stuttering.”
One of the differences U.S. and Fijian forces that participants got to experience came from the small unit leadership structures each country uses. Pvt. Apisai Saisai , a rifleman assigned to 3rd Battalion Fiji Infantry Regiment described the Fijian structure.
“Our squads have two leaders,” Saisai said. “The full corporal is the Section Commander and the lance corporal is the section second in command, like the mother of the section.”
In contrast, Saisai pointed out that U.S. squads have three leaders, and “everything is being led by the squad leader.”
Speaking on Exercise Cartwheel as a whole, Miller said interoperability between all countries’ forces was palpable at all levels of the formations.
“The partnerships we’re building in the pacific are stronger than ever," said Miller. "We came here last week talked to each other for one day and instantly became friends and partners.”