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Combined Forces Integrate in Early Stage of Talisman Saber 07

Navy NewsStand

Story Number: NNS070618-05
Release Date: 6/18/2007 3:19:00 PM

By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class (SW) Adam R. Cole, Task Force 76 Public Affairs

USS ESSEX, At Sea (NNS) -- An assortment of training evolutions and combined planning for Australian and U.S. naval forces is linking the two forces in the early phase of Talisman Saber 2007, occurring off the eastern coast of Australia.

The exercise’s force integration training (FIT) phase, which began June 10, crossed the midpoint as HMAS Sirius (OR 266) refueled USS Essex (LHD 2) and USS Tortuga (LSD 46), coming off the heels of refueling USS Juneau (LPD 10) the previous day.

FIT has featured combined training in a number of mission areas, including air, surface and subsurface defense, visit, board, search and seizure, as well as the continuous planning taking place aboard Essex and other ships within the combined task force.

In addition, a company of Australian soldiers and a company of U.S. Marines swapped places, with the members of 2nd Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment (2BRAR) sent to Juneau and members of 3d Marine Expeditionary Brigade’s 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit moving to HMAS Kanimbla (LPA 51). Combined training between Marines and soldiers is now taking place on those platforms.

Talisman Saber 2007 is an Australian-U.S. joint and combined exercise involving more than 32,000 personnel from both nations that will focus on improving interoperability and enhancing regional stability.

“I am very impressed with the combined effort we are seeing thus far,” said Royal Australia Navy Commodore Peter G. Lockwood, the Combined Force Maritime Component Command of the exercise. “I have been receiving good feedback about the events taking place so far and am most pleased with the deckplate and ground level bilateral training and relations that are taking place. I don’t really see us working as two forces, but one integrated force.”

Lockwood has been operating from a combined headquarters near the Shoalwater Bay Training Area. He and his staff have been closely linked in coordination efforts with Rear Adm. Carol M. Pottenger, the Deputy CFMCC and Commander, Expeditionary Strike Group 7. She manages all the assets at sea, including the Australian ships, from the Essex platform.

In total there are 11 ships. U.S. ships include Essex, Juneau, Tortuga, part of the forward-deployed Sasebo, Japan-based Essex Amphibious Ready Group and escort ships Pear Harbor-based USS Paul Hamilton (DDG 60) and the San Diego-based USS John Paul Jones (DDG 53).

Australian ships are Australian Amphibious Group ships Kanimbla, HMAS Manoora (LPA 52), HMAS Tobruk (LSH 50) and escort ships HMAS Newcastle (FFH 155), HMAS Ballarat (FFG 06), HMAS Parramatta (FFH 154).

Inside Essex, the flagship of ESG 7, a two-front operation is taking place as counterparts of both forces work to cement plans for the duration of the exercise while Amphibious Squadron (PHIBRON) 11 watch standers and staff work to direct ships to where they need to be. Watch standers must be vigilant in keeping constant communications and tracking assets as they move. Staff members are busy correcting charts and drawing out operational boxes for the ships to work within.

“In order to be successful at command and control of all these assets, we have had to work very closely with our Australian liaison officers [embarked on Essex]. Our counterparts have been crucial to facilitating maneuvering guidance,” said Lt. Cmdr. Ronnie P. Mangsat, the assistant operations officer for PHIBRON 11.

“Our navies and our ground forces are similar, and we share a common goal, which gives us the ability to overcome challenges brought on by complexity of the [exercise] mission,” Mangsat said.

Tactical Australian leaders are also appreciative that the spirit of combined operations runs within every facet of the exercise thus far.

“It’s excellent. Marines and diggers [Australian soldiers] are having some great exchanges on tactics and general discussions as well,” said Royal Australian Army Lt. Col. Ben N. James, commanding officer of the Royal Australia Army’s 2BRAR, embarked on the Kanimbla. “Everyone is excited to work together, and I think that enthusiasm will carry through to successful execution of the exercise.”

Expeditionary Strike Group (ESG) 7/Task Force (CTF) 76 is the Navy’s only forward-deployed amphibious force. Task Force 76 is headquartered at White Beach Naval Facility in Okinawa, Japan, with an operating detachment in Sasebo, Japan. The 3d Marine Expeditionary Brigade is headquartered in Okinawa, Japan.

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