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Exercise brings Australian, U.S. forces together

by Tech. Sgt. Chris Vadnais
Air Force News Agency

5/29/2007 - HICKAM AIR FORCE BASE, Hawaii (AFPN) -- Australian and American forces came together at Hickam Air Force Base and executed part one of Exercise Talisman Saber 2007 the end of May.

The two-part exercise, directed by the U.S. Pacific Command and executed every two years, is designed to maintain and strengthen the working relationship between U.S. and Australian forces in the Pacific Region.

Part one of the exercise focuses on planning and executing contingency missions from the Pacific Air Forces Kenney Headquarters Air Operations Center at Hickam AFB.

Staying prepared to execute coalition operations in PACOM -- a space covering 105 million square miles -- requires intensive cooperation and planning.

"The old adage, 'It'll be all right on the night' doesn't work," said Australian Air Vice Marshall Mark Binskin, the exercise's Combined Forces Air Component commander.

"You really need to get together earlier -- far earlier -- and make sure that you're fully integrated," he said. "And not only your doctrine, but the way you think, you operate, your tactics, your techniques. You've got to know what you don't know about the coalition."

Today's digital age offers many ways for the partners to connect, but the e-mail, phone calls, and video conferences they often use just aren't enough for this exercise.

"There's nothing that can replace face-to-face interaction," said Col. Michael Boera, the commander of the 613th Air Operations Center. "We can't afford to come together all the time, and that's why these big exercises are so important."

The state-of-the-art Combined Air Operations Center serves as the nerve center for the exercise. It's similar to what the Australian forces are used to, with one major difference.

"This is a very large complex, far larger than the Australian CAOC," Air Vice Marshall Binskin said. "Similar technology, similar processes, but it takes a while to sit down and work it all out. But it's coming together very, very well."

The Royal Australian Air Force received their second C-17 Globemaster III aircraft earlier this month. Two more are scheduled for delivery by February 2008, giving the Australian defense force an even more critical role in helping maintain security in the Pacific region.

Part two of Talisman Saber, held in Australia starting in June, will play out the operational aspects of the exercise.

"No one wishes for full-up combat or to have to be a part of a disaster relief," Colonel Boera said. "But obviously if we've gone through the thought processes and worked with the people that we'll work with should the worst happen, it'll be that much easier for us all." 

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