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NEWS | Sept. 18, 2022

Exercise Cartwheel 2022 - Belay Away

By Sgt. 1st Class Andrew Guffey, 343rd Mobile Public Affairs Detachment

NADI, FIJI – Soldiers from Bravo Company, 2nd Battalion, 27th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division shares their rappelling techniques in the highland mountains with coalition forces during Exercise Cartwheel 2022, Nadi, Fiji, on September 18, 2022.

Exercise Cartwheel is a multilateral military-to-military training exercise with the United States, Republic of Fiji Military Forces, Australian, New Zealand, and British forces that build expeditionary readiness and interoperability by increasing the capacity to face a crisis and contingencies by developing and stressing units at the highest training levels.

“We Fijians are very proud to be hosting exercise cartwheel,” said Maj. Toni Nagauna, 3rd Battalion Fijian Infantry Regiment.

The first thing with any dangerous task is proper training for mission accomplishment. As Soldiers from Bravo Company, demonstrate and instruct the appropriate way to putting on a rappelling harness and other personal protective equipment to mitigate the risk of injury.

“This training is about mastering the basics in rappelling,” said Staff Sgt. Vidal Aguilar, a squad leader with 1st Squad, 2nd Platoon, Bravo Company.

After ensuring your equipment is ready, it’s time to learn how to tie yourself in with the rope. Everything from hooking up to how to stop yourself as you do the cliff face is covered in the instructions before anyone gets to try out the hundred-foot cliff in the highlands.

Now that the instructions are over, it’s time for all the forces to come together, overcome their fears, and go over the edge. With rappel masters at the top and bottom, using two ropes, soldiers go over the rock edge and down into the jungle.

“I feel very privileged to go down first with U.S. Army Capt. Matthew Mitchell, commander B Co., also asserted some confidence in the men, that the boss was going first,” said Maj Toni Nagauna, 3rd Battalion Fijian Infantry Regiment.

After completing the rappel, Soldiers go on to the next station on how to use a one-rope bridge. The one rope bridge is used to get personnel and their equipment across waterways and ravines in the way of their objective.

“Working with the other nations is the best part of this training,” said Staff Sgt. Vidal Aguilar, a squad leader with 1st Squad, 2nd Platoon, Bravo Company.

Exercise Cartwheel provides tough, realistic training, strengthening RFMF and U.S. Army capacity as regional leaders, increasing security cooperation for a free and open Indo-Pacific.