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Field Training Launched for Australian-U.S. Forces in Talisman Saber 07

Navy NewsStand

Story Number: NNS070622-27
Release Date: 6/22/2007 3:02:00 PM


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

USS ESSEX, At Sea (NNS) -- Australia and U.S. forces officially began the field training phase of Talisman Saber 2007 on June 19, transitioning from work-up-like integrated training to a combined force executing within a simulated scenario.

The scenario-driven exercise will involve sea, land and air field training as well as crisis-action planning to successfully complete mission objectives.

The biennial exercise, which will bring together nearly 30,000 military personnel from both forces, is meant to improve U.S.-Australia military interoperability and in turn enhance regional stability.

According to Vice Adm. Doug Crowder, Commander U.S. 7th Fleet and the combined task force commander, the exercise is important because of the necessity for combined training in the types of missions that may be needed to sustain peace in the region.

“The United States and Australia have a long-standing relationship: we are strong allies and have a special partnership in the Pacific,” said Crowder. “This exercise is about strengthening that relationship by building personal and professional relationships between our military members. This is an incredible opportunity, to work as a combined force, developing shared warfighting proficiency needed to combat the global war on terror[ism].”

Crowder is embarked on the flagship USS Blue Ridge (LCC 19), which pulled into Sydney just prior to the beginning of the field training portion.

Involved naval assets will be 7th Fleet’s Kitty Hawk Carrier Strike Group and Expeditionary Strike Group 7, which are bringing more than 20,000 U.S. military personnel, 15 ships and 100 aircraft to the combined battle space. Australian forces participating in the exercise include 20 ships, 25 aircraft and 7,500 personnel.

The field training phase of the exercise follows what was an eight-day force integration training phase between ESG 7 ships and their respective counterparts in which the forces worked through a series of mission-focused evolutions, including air, surface and subsurface defense.

The U.S. Marine Corps’ 3d Marine Expeditionary Brigade and Royal Australia Army 3rd Brigade also completed combined training and even cross-attached companies to further facilitate integration; members of 2nd Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment moving to USS Juneau (LPD 10) and members of 3d Marine Expeditionary Brigade’s 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit moving to HMAS Kanimbla (LPA 51).

Prior to the force integration training, the Australia and U.S. staffs participated in a command post exercise off the coast of Japan in which the given scenario was played out in a computer-simulated format.

With both of these build-up activities, senior commanders of both forces feel that there is a high level of integration.

“I think it’s been a great learning experience for everyone involved, from the top on down, since our Soldiers are working right next to the U.S. Marines,” said Australian Army Brig. Gen. John G. Caligari, Commander of Combined Force Land Component Command, referring to the company cross deck that took place. “As we now move ashore, we’re more than prepared to complete our mission as a combined force. I feel confident in our ability to work together to achieve what is set out for us here.”

That integration was tested on the opening day of the field training exercise when a full sweep of ship-to-shore movements via a number of sea-based platforms brought U.S. Marines and their Australian Soldier counterparts to the beaches of Shoal Water Bay Training area. Helicopter insertions, assault amphibian vehicles and landing craft utilities were all utilized in the landing.

“The execution of the landing was flawless, with safety being paramount in its completion,” said Capt. Anthony J. Pachuta, commodore, Amphibious Squadron (PHIBRON) 11. “It has been a true pleasure to work with our Australian counterparts thus far, due to the relationships and professional exchanges that have been fostered. Sound combined planning was the essential element to the landing, and we now turn our attention to providing the support from sea to ground forces ashore.”

Once on the ground, Marines and soldiers will continue to work in tandem out of a combined operating center and work to complete objectives side-by-side. Ships will provide logistical support to ground forces in the form of aerial sorties launched from flight-capable ships while also delivering general resources like food, water and fuel.

Senior commanders are positive that the two forces can work strongly together as a combined team, resulting in more military unity after the exercise.

“I have seen the integration firsthand during the force integration training phase and it has been phenomenal,” said Rear Adm. Carol M. Pottenger, Commander, ESG 7 and Deputy Commander, Combined Force Maritime Component Command. “As military members, we have a high level of professionalism and sense of mission, that carries through no matter what uniform we wear and for what nation we wear it. Vice Adm. Crowder stated it well: ‘By achieving training objectives here, we are more capable of achieving real world peace-sustaining objectives that may arise in the future.’”

Commander, Expeditionary Strike Group 7/Task Force 76, 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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