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Talisman Saber Exercises 'Framework for Action' Concepts

By Chief Petty Officer Rick Chernitzer, USN
Special to American Forces Press Service

ABOARD USS BLUE RIDGE, June 9, 2005 – Exercise Talisman Saber, the first of a biennial series of exercises aimed at further developing and enhancing the defense relationships between the United States and Australia, began in various locations in eastern Australia on June 8.

Click photo for screen-resolution image
Navy Vice Adm. Jonathan W. Greenert, right, commander of the U.S. 7th Fleet, and Australian Maj. Gen. Mark Kelly, 1st Division commander, Deployable Joint Force Headquarters, conduct a news conference June 7 aboard the USS Blue Ridge for exercise Talisman Saber 2005. Photo by Petty Officer 1st Class Brianna K. Dandridge, USN

(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.

A combined task force of about 6,000 Australian and 11,000 U.S. personnel from all branches of the services are operating from a variety of locations in central and northern part of the state of Queensland, with maritime forces exercising off the coast of Queensland in the Coral Sea.

Navy Vice Adm. Jonathan W. Greenert, commander of the U.S. 7th Fleet and the overall military commander for the exercise, said Talisman Saber "provides me a chance to exercise my staff with other 7th Fleet units, as well as the Australian Joint Operations Staff and units, to work in a coalition as a designated combined task force."

The exercise will focus on crisis action planning and execution of contingency response operations.

"What that basically means is we'll be practicing something we as forward-deployed units may be called upon to do at any time: surge forward with speed and agility," Greenert said.

The admiral said the exercise is a "great opportunity" for his staff to put the principles behind his "Framework for Action" to practice in near real-world conditions.

"My first goal in Framework for Action, to be able to operate multidimensional joint and combined forces, will get a good workout," he said. "But we're also exercising my goal to deliver responsive short-term readiness. To me, that's the big one here. Can we surge quickly, integrate into a coalition, and win? If not, where are we falling short and how do we correct it?"

Australian Maj. Gen. Mark Kelly, deputy commander of the combined task force, said readiness and interoperability are crucial to any operation, whether in the real world or in an exercise.

"We will have individuals working together that may have to get past differences not only in culture, but in the procedures they've used in the past," he said. "That's an extraordinary challenge, but one that's necessary to come together as one cohesive unit. I can't think of any other setting or situation where this imperative is more critical than in the world we live in today."

Kelly, who serves as 1st Division commander with the Deployable Joint Force Headquarters for the Australian military, added the U.S.-Australia defense relationship is strong and has a history of solidarity, especially in recent times.

Greenert agreed. "Australia is a strong ally and special partner in the Pacific," he said. "Their efforts in the humanitarian assistance and disaster relief efforts after the Dec. 26 earthquake and tsunami, support for a new joint anti-terrorism center in Indonesia and its regional assistance mission to the Solomon Islands spotlight their solid leadership and resolve to keep the region secure for all."

Environmental protection also plays a key role in measuring the success of Talisman Saber, Greenert said. Operating forces have been given extensive briefings on the training area, he said, noting that areas marked as "no go" are clearly marked and that boundaries will be respected. Proper procedures for handling waste, preventing pollution, and protecting endangered species, marine mammals and other environmental resources have been created and will be enforced, he added.

"Protecting the environment is as critical to us as the training we do," Greenert said. "It's a personal commitment -- and I've made this clear to all my commanders -- that we will operate all our forces in a manner compatible with the environment. National defense and responsible environmental management must continue to be compatible goals."

Kelly agreed, adding concern for the environment is a major player in everything his country's military does.

"It's a priority for all military exercises conducted in Australia," Kelly said. "Many impact assessments have been conducted in preparation for Talisman Saber."

Kelly added that many procedures and guidelines have been implemented, including the establishment of an environmental monitoring group to monitor compliance with stringent exercise environmental protection instructions.

"This group will have direct access to military commanders up and down the chain to ensure that all activities will have a minimal environmental impact," he said. "Defence's policy is to be a leader in environmental management to support the Defence Forces' capability to defend Australia and its national interests."

Greenert summed up his vision for the exercise by again referring to his Framework for Action.

"It's all about training our forces for the 21st century challenge," he said. "That's a key goal in our Framework for Action, and it's definitely aligned with our ultimate purpose for Talisman Saber."

(Navy Chief Petty Officer Rick Chernitzer is assigned to U.S. 7th Fleet public affairs.)

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Vice Adm. Jonathan W. Greenert, USN

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Exercise Talisman Saber

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