- The Washington Times - Thursday, July 17, 2014

The Pentagon said Thursday that U.S. and Chinese military forces have agreed to participate in an unprecedented land training exercise together in Australia later this year.

Despite friction between Washington and Beijing over China’s military muscle-flexing in Asia, the two sides have conducted occasional joint naval drills during recent years.

But the upcoming ground force exercise will be the first of its kind.

Pentagon spokesman Lt. Col. Jeff Pool confirmed an Australian media report Thursday, which said the exercise will take place in October in rugged terrain, with a small but unspecified number of U.S. Marines, Australian and Chinese troops participating.

Lt. Col. Pool said the “austere” nature of the exercise, will require the three militaries to survive “out in the wild, eating snakes and bugs.”

It was not immediately clear whether the participating soldiers will be carrying weapons or live ammunition during the training, which is being dubbed “Exercise Kowari.”

Lt. Col. Pool said the issue remains undecided. The Pentagon is still in the planning stage, he said.

The training is the first trilateral exercise of its kind, according to the Australian Associated Press, which reported Thursday that plans for the exercise emerged from a visit of Gen. Fan Changlong, second-in-command of the People’s Liberation Army, to Austrialia on Thursday.