Exercise Talisman Sabre is the eighth iteration of an international exercise consisting of a Field Training Exercise incorporating force preparation (logistic) activities, amphibious landings, land force manoeuvre, urban operations, air operations, maritime operations and Special Forces activities.
The Talisman Sabre series is highly important to Australian and US military bilateral training. The exercise focuses on the planning and conduct of mid-intensity ‘high end’” warfighting. The majority of exercise activities are conducted in the Shoalwater Bay Training Area and surrounding land, sea and airspace.
TS19 is designed to practise the two countries’ respective armed forces and associated agencies in planning and conducting combined and joint task force operations. Ultimately, the interaction in-exercise improves the combat-readiness and interoperability between Australian and US forces.
Commander Amphibious Force, US Seventh Fleet, Rear Admiral Fred Kacher said the combination of nations within the exercise resulted in a “tough and challenging scenario” that led to an “appreciation of each others capabilities,” and he praised the ability of the combined task forces to form a “lethal, cohesive force when made to do so.”
Admiral Kacher and the ADF’s Deputy Chief of Joint Operations Major General Roger Noble pointed to the introduction of exciting new technologies to the exercise, which resulted in a realistic challenge for the personnel, but also an important step forward for the ADF.
Highlights included Australia’s landing helicopter dock ships HMAS Adelaide and Canberra operating together fully in a full tactical scenario with amphibious landings as part of a combined force. Also significant was the US Army and the US Marine Corps firing the high mobility artillery rocket system with live fire in a combined setting for the first time.
There was also collective embarkation and helicopter landings on the ship with the MRH 90 and ARH Tiger helicopters, and the CH-47 Chinook helicopter.
In the air, accomplishments included the Australian KC-30A refuelling US Air Force F-22A Raptor stealth fighters. Also significant was the first mechanized infantry company from the Australian Army embark and land on the beaches.
Concerns about the presence of Chinese warships positioned off the coast observing the exercise activities were waived off by Admiral Kacher and General Noble who insisted there was no interference with the exercise and that other nations were welcome to watch. In fact, the presence of the Chinese warship pointed to the importance of the Talisman Sabre exercise series on the world scene.
Admiral Kacher said Talisman Sabre represents another strong link in the bond of friendship between Australia and the United States, who have served together and fought alongside each other.
“For every iteration Talisman Sabre becomes more valuable for being here, more realistic, more challenging and that’s making us all better.
“This year Talisman Sabre was the culmination of months of preparation for a challenging series, examining how working together we could respond to a tough and well equipped adversary.
“I’m grateful for all who came together to orchestrate such a tough and challenging scenario.
“I’m also proud that collectively Australia and the US and the other nations that were joining us were able to amass, 36 ships, 200 aircraft, 34000 personnel, to engage in extraordinary combined effort.
“In addition to Australian and US forces I express my heartfelt appreciation to Japan, Canada, New Zealand, and the United Kingdom for sending their personnel to participate in what was a high end exercise. And make no mistake, with Talisman Sabre 2019 we have undeniably advanced our collective interopability.
“We stood side by side with ships in combat formation set up fighting shoulder to shoulder ashore, our soldiers, sailors airmen and marines and coast guardsmen worked hard each day and we depart more prepared and committed to a free, and independent Pacific.”
With TS19 completed, Australian and US forces can begin planning for TS21 in two years time.