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PLA begins first three-way exercise with US, Australia

Updated: 2014-10-08 07:41
By China Daily and Bloomberg (China Daily)

Drill designed to test militaries in outback's harshest conditions

China, Australia and the United States started their first trilateral military exercise on Monday, as Australia is building military links with Washington while seeking to maintain economic ties with Beijing, its biggest trading partner.

Five soldiers from the US Marine Corps, 10 from the People's Liberation Army and 10 from the Australian Army are taking part in the survival training exercise known as KOWARI 14, according to a statement from Australia's Department of Defence.

Fan Changlong, vice-chairman of China's Central Military Commission, visited Australia from July 16 to 19, when the two sides formally announced the military exercise during this visit. The exercise will conclude on Oct 25.

"Exercise KOWARI 14 will provide participants with an understanding of the basic principles, procedures, techniques and equipment that can enhance survival prospects in the harsh Australian environment," said Australian Defence Minister David Johnston.

"The exercise demonstrates the willingness of Australia, China and the United States to work together in practical ways," he said.

Meanwhile, the US has strengthened its six-decade alliance with Australia, intending to double its 1,200 elite soldiers there by 2020, boost live-fire exercises and increase naval visits.

Zhang Junshe, deputy director of the Naval Military Studies Research Institute, said the increasing military engagement of the US in Australia "does not necessarily mean that the Oceanic country will serve as an effective component of Washington's containing China strategy".

The drills that began on Monday include field training and survival tests in remote inland and coastal areas, according to Australia's Department of Defence.

"The exercise will provide some extremely challenging situations for the participants to work through, in some of the toughest terrain that Australia has to offer," said its commander, Brigadier Peter Clay.

"The troops will have to depend on each other absolutely in order to succeed," Clay said.

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