SCHOFIELD BARRACKS, HI – Leaders from across the Bronco Brigade were granted a unique opportunity, completing their senior leader training with the New Zealand Army.
Historically, the Brigade Mungadai is an opportunity for the senior leaders within the Staff, Squadron, and Battalions to create strong bonds through shared hardships. While previous Mungadais have seen senior leaders patrolling though the gulches and hills of the Kahuku Training Area (KTA) in Hawaii, this year’s Mungadai was taken 4,600 miles away to the mountains and volcanos of New Zealand.
The exercise kicked off with a traditional New Zealand greeting, a Pōwhiri, where Soldiers were welcomed into New Zealand through traditional Māori speeches, greetings, and a Haka. The Bronco Soldiers returned the greeting with gifts, words from the Brigade commander col. Robert Shaw, and the 25th Infantry Division’s Ha’a. The formal greeting was concluded with a hāngī, food cooked with steam and heat from heated stones.
Key to deepening the interoperability between the Unites States and New Zealand, each Squadron and Battalion was able to brief their New Zealand counterpart on their capabilities, equipment, and mission set. Once complete, breakout sessions allowed leaders from both armies to discuss tactics, best practices, and ideal utilization within the Pacific area of responsibility.
"The New Zealand Army and the U.S. Army have a long lineage of fighting together around the world and this is an opportunity for us to continue that rich legacy," said Maj. Chris Mattos, the 3rd Infantry Brigade Combat Team senior planning officer. “The end state is that we both have the ability to fight together and win in the Pacific and really anywhere in the world, and we have a lot of training events coming up in the near future that this is going to set conditions for.”
Throughout the exercise, the Soldiers demonstrated a high level of professionalism and dedication, continually engaging with their New Zealand counterparts. Bronco leaders went on to complete the physical portion of the Mungadai, a 12 mile hike through the Tongariro Alpine Crossing, reaching an elevation of over 6489 feet. This was followed by team building exercises on the Tongariro River. The event culminated in a 50 km bike ride through the timber trail, a trail taking riders up and around one of the picturesque mountains of New Zealand.
The benefits of the interoperability training go beyond just the U.S. Army and the New Zealand Defense Force. By improving the ability of these forces to work together, the training enables further cooperation between all Pacific partners within the Asia-Pacific region. This is particularly important given the dynamic and complex security environment in the region, and the need for rapid and effective responses to emerging threats.
The interoperability training conducted between the U.S. Army and the New Zealand Defense Force during the 2023 Mungadai in Waiouru Military Camp, New Zealand, has contributed to the wider goal of improving the interoperability in the Asia-Pacific region, and to the security and stability of the region as a whole. The Bronco Brigade continues to look for future opportunities to once again train with the New Zealand Defense Force.