On Monday, Camp Pendleton Marines of the 7th Engineer Support Battalion and some 35 New Zealand Army Engineers took part in Galvanic Kiwi— part of the first reciprocal training between the two nations in nearly three decades.
The forces trained on the use of an improved ribbon bridge in the Del Mar Boat Basin.
The New Zealand Army doesn’t have that particular type of bridge, but it works alongside Americans in Afghanistan.
“It’s the little stuff that’s different,” New Zealand Army 2nd Lt. Cameron Allan said. “The whole idea behind being here is was that we work out what all those details are and the differences between the way we operate and learn from you and hopefully you learn a bit from us.”
Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta and New Zealand Minister of Defence Jonathan Coleman signed the “Washington Declaration” at the Pentagon last week to grow the military relationship between the two countries.
New Zealand plans to be deployed to Afghanistan until 2014, according to its Army.
Allan’s engineers trained this month at Twentynine Palms and continued to train this week on Camp Pendleton.
“It’s been a great learning experience for the guys that I’ve got here who are new to the Army,” Allan said, “and it’s been great for the guys that are old hands to come out and work with old partners again.”
For Pfc Alex Krieger, a boat operator, working with the foreign troops was easier than he had expected.
“I was kind of surprised, I they’d talk a little different,” he said. ”And they understand me, so it’s kind of cool.”
The soldiers plan to take some time next week to explore Southern California.