Americans, Aussies Train Together 'Down Under' in Talisman Saber '05
By Lt. Cmdr. Pamela Warnken, USN
Special to American Forces Press Service
CAMP ROCKHAMPTON, Australia, June 22, 2005 Friendship and firepower reigned June 12 as American and Australian forces kicked off Talisman Saber '05.
The month-long exercise began with hundreds of Alaska-based 1st Battalion, 501st Airborne Infantry Regiment soldiers jumping from U.S. Air Force C-17 Globemaster aircraft into Australia's 667,182-acre Shoal Water Bay Training Area. Australian paratroopers from Royal Australian Air Force C-130s followed shortly afterward.
Soon joined by an amphibious insertion of Aussie and U.S. troops from the sister services, the training near the Great Barrier Reef is designed to test interoperability between long-time Pacific allies. Working together, the airborne and amphibious troops "fought" their way across 50 kilometers (about 31 miles) of rough terrain to reach their objective.
Occurring every two years, Talisman Saber shores up regional security and solidifies the two nations' capabilities in regional contingencies, as well as the global war on terrorism.
Talisman Saber is a union between the former Tandem Thrust and Crocodile exercises of the 1990s. The scenario is based on a fictional foe, but is crafted to test special operations, amphibious landing, artillery, and air combat assets, and maritime operations. It also tests every angle of operational support and logistics.
Weeks before the exercise, the USS Boxer loaded Australian military vehicles, such as Leopard battle tanks and Land Rovers, along side U.S. Humvees. To coordinate troop movements, a prototype, modular tactical operations center with high-speed Internet, and cryptological and intelligence-gathering cells was delivered to the exercise's base camp for field testing.
"We can't expect to be good at something unless we've had the opportunity to practice," said Royal Australian Army Maj. Gen. Mark Kelly, the deputy commander of the joint task force assembled for Exercise Talisman Saber. "The chance to practice allows us to react on a dark night when we come together in an emergency, like the devastating Tsunami" that occurred late last year, claiming over 200,000 lives.
The U.S. 7th Fleet's flag ship, USS Blue Ridge, joined the Pacific-deployed carrier USS Kitty Hawk and Australian naval vessels as maritime control hubs. In all, more than 17,000 Australian and U.S. servicemembers are cooperating in Talisman Saber's three phases of combined operations.
U.S. Navy Vice Adm. Jonathan W. Greenert, who leads Talisman Saber's combined task force as well as the U.S. 7th Fleet, was on the ground at Shoal Water Bay to watch the insertions.
"These are very high-end, high-tech, and cutting-edge operations we're seeing here today," Greenert said. "This is the best in the Pacific coming together, and it's a marvel to watch. I'm continually amazed at our troops' ability to adjust, adapt and work together."
(Navy Lt. Cmdr. Pamela Warnken is assigned to the Combined Joint Information Bureau for Exercise Talisman Saber. Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Angela McLane, of Fleet Combat Camera Group Pacific, San Diego, and Marine Lance Cpl. Ashleigh Bryant, of American Forces Network Tokyo, contributed to this report.)