THE Philippines sent staff officers to the French Armed Forces-led Croix du Sud (“Southern Cross”) exercise from April 24 to May 6, 2023, as participants from 19 countries gathered in New Caledonia—a French territory—for the joint and
multinational exercise dedicated to the interoperability of military forces in the context of postnatural disaster crisis management in the South Pacific.
Coming back from a few years of hiatus due to the pandemic, this year’s Croix du Sud exercise brought together some 3,000 military and civilian personnel, 10 ships, and 15 aircraft.
The two-week exercise was built around the scenario of emergency assistance after a natural disaster through humanitarian assistance and disaster relief or HADR to strengthen cooperation among military partners in the region. It also showed the capacity of the French Armed Forces to receive and command a significant volume of foreign detachments.
Australia was the largest foreign contributor with 250 participants, including an infantry company, a C- 27J aircraft, and an Australian defense vessel Reliant. The United States was the second-largest foreign contingent with approximately 240 participants, a C-130 aircraft, and the frigate USS Oakland.
The United Kingdom, Fiji, New Zealand, and Tonga also commissioned troops to participate. Aside from the Philippines, seven other countries participated with staff officers including Canada, Germany, Indonesia, Netherlands, Papua New Guinea, Peru, Singapore. Brunei, Indonesia, Japan and Malaysia participated as observers.