Exercise Croix du Sud (Southern Cross) will run from 24 April to 6 May in New Caledonia.

This major joint and combined military exercise, planned and led by France, will consist in a multinational force conducting a post disaster humanitarian assistance and disaster relief (HADR) operation, involving important land, maritime and air assets and unit from 19 nations, including France.

Exercise Croix du Sud 2023 is a major training activity designed to contribute to sustaining the capacities of Indo-Pacific partners’ common capacities of coordination and intervention. This ambitious exercise provides a high level of realism for the participating units and is intended as a factor of integration for participating countries, by working together in disaster management, which is a central issue in the South Pacific.

Under the authority of the General commanding the French Armed Forces in New Caledonia (COMSUP FANC), Croix du Sud 2023 will engage, during two weeks, about 3000 military and civilian personnel, including 2200 French and 800 representatives of 18 partner nations. A specifically designed joint and combined headquarter will direct and coordinate the manoeuvre from Noumea.

The scale of the multinational capacities deployed for Croix du Sud 2023 is unprecedented in New Caledonia. The land component will consist of seven companies (about 1000 soldiers) under the command of the FANC Marine Infantry Battalion (RIMaPNC). The navy component will consist of 10 surface vessels, commanded by a headquarter embarked on the French Landing Helicopter Dock Dixmude. The air component will consist of 15 aircraft (fixed or rotary wings), commanded from the FANC Air Base in La Tontouta.

The exercise will benefit from the civilian experience and savoir-faire, in assisting communities hit by a disaster, of representatives of Secours catholique (Caritas France), France Volontaires, Croix rouge française, U.S Aid, Australian Aid, Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.

The scenario of Croix du Sud 2023 is a fictive operation, inspired by the many real post disaster operations conducted in the Pacific region in recent years, for the implementation of which the 3000 military and civilians will need various technical, tactical and logistical abilities and aptitudes and will develop interoperability and coordination in the framework of a HADR contingency intervention.

French Armed Forces in New Caledonia / Forces armées en Nouvelle-Calédonie (FANC): The FANC are a very integrated force of more than 1500 active service members, 350 reservists and 220 civil servants, with land, naval and air capabilities. Their missions are to protect the population and territory of New Caledonia and Wallis-and-Futuna. They participate in missions of law enforcement at sea. They contribute actively to the stability and resilience of the South West Pacific region and interact frequently with the defence and security forces of partner nations, in order to exchange expertise and experience, especially in the HADR and maritime security domains. They are in a permanent state of readiness in order to intervene in case of disaster or security crisis in the region. They also participate in exercises of tactical interoperability with partner forces.

The French military organisation in the Pacific also comprises the Forces in French Polynesia (FAPF) that are organised like the FANC and have the same missions in their own area of responsibility. With both FANC and FAPF, France holds a permanent military presence in the South Pacific, and is able to protect her interests in the region and sustain defence partnerships in this zone of strategic importance.

The embarked headquarter of the French aero-naval rapid reaction force (FRMARFOR)

The Croix du Sud naval component headquarter is commanded by a French rear admiral and composed by twenty French Navy personnel coming from the headquarter of the French aero-naval rapid reaction force (FRMARFOR), based in Toulon. Under the command of COMSUP FANC, this embarked HQ, on board FS DIXMUDE, will ensure the tactical command of the 10 vessels participating in Croix du Sud 2023. It is the first time that an operational navy headquarter comes to the Asia-Pacific region and during a “Jeanne d’Arc” training deployment.

Mission Jeanne d’Arc 2023

The amphibious task group Jeanne d’Arc is conducting a five-month circumnavigation with the main mission of training the cadets of the French Naval Academy. It also contribute to affirming the French sovereignty in the national maritime zones by reinforcing, temporarily, the capacities of the permanent forces in the French overseas collectivities in the Indian Ocean, the Pacific and the Atlantic. It participates in strengthening the cooperation with partner forces around the world.

The “Jeanne d’Arc group 2023” is composed of Landing Helicopter Dock (LHD) Dixmude and frigate (FLF) La Fayette. Its personnel and equipment include nearly 800 sailors and soldiers, including about 160 cadets, a detachment of the amphibious flotilla, a Navy Dauphin Helicopter and a S-100 naval drone, as well as an embedded tactical group (GTE) of the French Army (150 men 40 vehicles), and two Army Gazelle helicopters.

Partner nations participating in Exercise Croix du Sud 2023

Troop contributing nations: Australia, Fiji, New-Zeeland, Tonga, United Kingdom, United Sates of America.

Staff contributing nations: Canada, Germany, Indonesia, Netherlands, Papua New Guinea, Peru, Philippines,

Observer nations: Brunei, Japan, Malaysia, Vanuatu.