Members of China’s People’s Liberation Army (PLA) joined Australian and United States troops on Tuesday in the the first joint military exercise to be staged in Australia.

The PLA soldiers are part of Exercise Kowari, which is scheduled to run until October 25, and has been hailed as a milestone in defence co-operation between Australia, China and the US.

“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,” Australian Defense Minister David Johnston said in a statement.

“The exercise demonstrates the willingness of Australia, China and the United States to work together in practical ways.”

Ten soldiers from the Australian Army, 10 from China’s People’ s Liberation Army, five from the US Army and five from the US Marine Corps will take part, with a further 100 military personnel providing support in roles including liaison and logistics.

Exercise Kowari is focusing on the development of survival skills in northern Australia’s harsh environment. The soldiers will learn how to find food in the rugged countryside and also identify which plants can be used for emergency medicine.

Commander of the exercise, Brigadier Peter Clay, said Australia was pleased to host the Chinese and US personnel.

“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,” he said. “The troops will have to depend on each other absolutely in order to succeed.”

“Norforce, with its deep connections to indigenous communities, and unrivaled expertise in survival skills, is the ideal unit to provide this training.”

The Northern Territory’s home-grown, 500-strong reservist regiment, Norforce is a Regional Force Surveillance Unit of the Australian Army, which includes about half of whom are from remote indigenous communities. Its soldiers are experts in bushcraft and the Territory’s harsh environment.

From XINHUA October 8, 2014 in China Daily