WELLINGTON, Oct. 31 (Xinhua) -- New Zealand's largest multi-national military exercise is to get even bigger, with more countries taking part in, the New Zealand Defense Force (NZDF) said Monday.
Held every two years, Southern Katipo exercise involved naval, land and air services and more than 2,000 personnel from New Zealand and defense partners including Australia, France, the United States, Fiji, Papua New Guinea and Tonga.
Singapore and Malaysia had been invited to participate in next year's drill, increasing the number of international participants from nine to 11, said the NZDF.
The exercise, scheduled for late 2017, would again be held around the west and north of the South Island, but would extend further south in the west and further east in the north.
Planning for the war game was being stepped up, exercise director Lieutenant Colonel Martin Dransfield said.
"Exercises such as Southern Katipo have huge logistical requirements. That is why we have already started to engage with the local communities to gain their support and establish key points of contact," Dransfield said.
Exercise Southern Katipo 2015 had used land, ports, airfields and, in some cases, private farmland, while hundreds of civilians took part as role-players in the exercise.
The biennial exercise would build on the cooperation achieved between the NZDF, other government agencies, non-governmental organizations and regional defense partners during the humanitarian aid operation after Tropical Cyclone Winston struck Fiji in February, killing 42 people.