11 May 2012

NZ sends soldiers to train in United States

3:59 pm on 11 May 2012

The Defence Force is sending a contingent of soldiers to train in the United States for the first time in nearly 30 years.

Thirty-four engineers from Linton and one medic will go to Camp Pendleton in California.

They will depart after completing exercises in New Zealand with a platoon of US marines in June.

About 50 US Marine specialists and a marine band will be in New Zealand to celebrate next month's 70th anniversary of the arrival of the marines in the country.

Defence Minister Jonathan Coleman says sending the New Zealand troops to the United States is a natural progression in the two countries' relationship.

"It signifies that we're ready to work and train with other like-minded nations with similar strategic interests."

The Defence Force is also sending the New Zealand Navy frigate Te Kaha and tanker Endeavour, the Operational Dive Team and 200 sailors and soldiers to take part in the world's biggest maritime exercise, RIMPAC, off Hawai'i next month.