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Soldiers jump into Australia for Talisman Saber

ROCKHAMPTON, Australia (Army News Service, June 29, 2005) -- More than 11,000 U.S. and 6,000 Australian troops conclude their joint training this week in exercise Talisman Saber at Shoalwater Bay Training Area near Australia’s Great Barrier Reef.

Talisman Saber is a month-long biennial exercise that ends July 1, with joint maneuvers that integrate U.S. and Australian sea, land, and air forces.

About 600 Soldiers from the 1st Battalion, 501st Parachute Infantry Regiment out of Fort Richardson, Alaska, jumped into Shoalwater Bay June 19. After a 4,500-mile flight aboard a C-17, they safely parachuted during darkness at 1:30 a.m. onto a drop zone at the 667,182-acre training area.

"Our unit is now involved in tactical maneuvers with the Australian forces in a forward advance," said Capt. Travis Rudge, a platoon leader with the battalion. Rudge, who is responsible for the unit's logistical needs, said his troops will engage the opposing force in a mock battle.

Eight Soldiers from the 1-501st PIR will remain in Australia following Talisman Saber to do an additional two weeks of training at the Tully Jungle Warfare Training School near Townsville in Queensland, officials said.

The 1-501st PIR is a quick-strike unit that deploys around the world under short notice conditions as an airborne infantry force. The unit can penetrate deep into enemy territory, seize terrain, defeat enemy forces and destroy critical infrastructure, officials said. The battalion is the first element of one of the Army's newest formations, the 4th Brigade Combat Team (Airborne), 25th Infantry Division.

"We have an extensive training program that centers on physical fitness, marksmanship, medical training and battle drills," he said. "Much of our tactical training is geared toward winning the war against terrorism. The battle drills include urban fighting, Brazilian Ju Jitsu hand-to-hand combat training, tactical vehicle movements, detecting, and reacting to (improvised explosive devices), and perimeter security."

The 501st mission supported Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan last year. Spc. William D'Hondt, a veteran with the unit, said the unit's realistic training beforehand -- similar to what they're doing in Australia -- was essential to success in the hilly Afghan territory.

"Combat skills acquired through that deployment and the intense scenarios developed for Talisman Saber both contribute to the realism of the training and are being shared with Australian forces," he said. "The most important thing I can teach the younger soldiers is to train like you fight. Most of the guys in the Army now are going to see combat, and they need to treat training like a real-world situation every time they can."

Talisman Saber is jointly sponsored by the U.S. Pacific Command and Australian Defense Force Joint Operations Command. Based on fictional scenarios, the exercise includes combined Special Forces operations, parachute drops, amphibious landings at Shoalwater Bay, artillery and infantry maneuvers, air combat training and advanced maritime operations.

The Kitty Hawk Carrier Strike Group is participating in the exercise, and operations have involved Soldiers training aboard ship and conducting beach landings.

More information on Talisman Saber can be found at

(Editor’s note: Information taken from news releases by the Combined Joint Information Bureau for Talisman Saber '05. Navy Lt. Cmdr. Keith Taylor and Lt. j.g. Kris Hooper provided significant contributions.)

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