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Talisman Saber

On 21 July 2013, the United States Navy acknowledged that 2 of fighter jets had dropped 4 bombs off the coast of Australia during an abortive training exercise. The planes dropped the bombs in the Great Barrier Reef, a World Heritage Site, during a drill on 16 July 2013. The US Navy said in a statement that the Marine AV-8B Harrier jets intended to drop at a bombing range on nearby Townshend Island but that the mission was aborted. The jets were low on fuel and could not land loaded. On 25 July 2013, US Seventh Fleet announced that it would, in coordination with the Australian Defence Force (ADF), lead the safe retrieval and disposal of 4 bombs which were jettisoned off the coast of Queensland, Australia by 2 AV-8B Harrier aircraft in an emergency situation on 16 July 2013. This was in line with the US military's professional responsibility to mitigate the environmental impact of its exercises/operations and its policy of conscientiously conforming to the proper rules and protocols set forth by Australian military and civilian authorities. In conducting the retrieval, Seventh Fleet would coordinate closely with the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority (GBRMPA) and ADF to ensure the environment was protected with the greatest care. The US military had already been in close contact with ADF and GBRMPA to determine the appropriate course of action.

Talisman Saber 2013 is a US Pacific Command (PACOM) sponsored bilateral exercise designed to train Australian and US forces in planning and conducting combined task force operations, in order to improve combat readiness and interoperability. The exercise focuses on a mid-intensity, high-end warfighting scenario involving a combined joint task force. The goal of Talisman Saber is to train and validate the US and Australian joint task force in crisis planning and contingency operations. Other key goals are to improve US/Australian combat readiness and interoperability through combined training and demonstrate the US and Australia's ability and commitment to support the security interests of Australia and those of the broader Indo-Asia-Pacific region.

Talisman Saber (called Talisman Sabre when led by Australia) was created by merging previous exercises, Tandem Thrust, Kingfisher, and Crocodile, into one biennial, joint, combined exercise with US and Australian forces. Australia had a robust set of range and training facilities for air, land, and sea operations in the Pacific Rim. The facilities ranged from well-developed, instrumented training ranges to austere sites with little existing infrastructure. The Department of Defense looked to build a comprehensive plan to study expanded use of these training areas to support the Talisman Saber exercise series and other future training initiatives. Australia/US combined training events as part of Talisman Saber could exercise Combined Task Force-level air, land and sea operations to a level rarely found outside the United States.

A major exercise held in 2005 was Talisman Saber 2005, which was held in June 2005 on the coast of Australia. Planning for this combined exercise commenced early 2003 and was to be the major Australian/US exercise for the year. In support of this, the Talisman Saber 05 Staff Exercise (STAFFEX) was held between 12 and 17 September 2004 in Japan. The US Army's Program Executive Office for Command, Control and Communications-Tactical (PEO C3T) Special Projects Office (SPO) was tasked to provide Command and Control System Integration support to PACOM, US Army Pacific (USARPAC), and 1st Battalion, 501st Infantry, the latter being tasked as the Army Force (ARFOR) for the exercise. The initial planning conference, to include discussions relative to Information Management, Command and Control, and Concepts of Operation, was planned for 12 to 23 April 2005. Initial testing of systems and address books was tentatively scheduled in Sept 2004 between SPO lab facilities, Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command (SPAWAR), PACOM, and Australian forces. However, early in the planning cycle, MSEL development, network architecture, CENTRIX connectivity, equipment availability, and training were being discussed with PACOM and USARPAC personnel. A JTFW node or possibly nodes was also being planned for tactical level units and the Joint Combined Land Force Combatant Commander (JCFLCC) afloat. It was also possible that either the High Speed Vessel (HSV) or Theater Support Vessel (TSV) types would be an active player in the exercise. SPO Command and Control support personnel were working with USARPAC G-6 personnel on a possible Command and Control platform design for these vessels. PACOM envisioned the exercise as a major step forward in coalition training between US and Australian forces.

More than 27,000 US and Australian personnel converged in Australia and the Coral Sea in preparation for the amphibious exercise Talisman Saber 2013 in June 2013. The exercise was to be held off the coast of Australia between 15 July and 6 August 2013. Designed to improve US/Australian combat training, readiness and interoperability, approximately 18,000 US and 9,000 Australian personnel were to participate in the 2013 iteration of the exercise. Talisman Saber 2013 was the fifth iteration of the combined exercise. Training was to be conducted from multiple locations in the United States and Australia. Locations in the United States included Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam; San Diego; Joint Base Lewis-McChord; and Suffolk, Virginia. Locations in Australia to included Rockhampton, Enogerra, Amberley, Williamtown, Richmond, the maritime areas of the Coral Sea, and Australian ranges to include Shoalwater Bay Training Area, and Townsville Field Training Area.

The scenario for Talisman Saber 2013 was a fictitious peace enforcement mission that sets the conditions for the task force to hand over to a United Nations peacekeeping force. When the exercise officially began on 15 July 2013, approximately 21,000 US and 7000 Australian Defence Force personnel were said to be involved, along with other Australian Government agencies including the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, AusAID, Australian Federal Police, and Australian Civil-Military Centre.

US and Royal Australian Navy (RAN) Sailors from the George Washington Carrier Strike Group (GWCSG) began their portion of Talisman Saber 2013 off the northeast coast of Australia on 15 July 2013. Over the next 2 weeks the GWCSG would participate in various events with the RAN, including air-defense warfare, anti-submarine warfare, surface warfare, visit, board, search and seizure, air-to-air training, and close-air support to amphibious forces. Participants from the GWCSG included the USS George Washington (CVN 73) with embarked Carrier Air Wing 5 (CVW-5), embarked Commander Destroyer Squadron 15, USS Antietam (CG 54), USS Lassen (DDG 82), USS Preble (DDG 88), USS Momsen (DDG 92), USS Chung-Hoon (DDG 93), and the RAN guided-missile frigate HMAS Sydney (FFG 03).

Also on 15 July 2013, the forward-deployed amphibious assault ship USS Bonhomme Richard (LHD 6), the flagship of the Bonhomme Richard Amphibious Ready Group (ARG), officially began participating in exercise Talisman Saber 2013. The Bonhomme Richard ARG, including Commander, Amphibious Force 7th Fleet (CTF-76), Commander, Amphibious Squadron 11 (CPR-11), 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit, and Australian Amphibious Task Group staff, had the primary responsibility to land the marine landing forces of the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit in order to train US and Australian personnel to respond to crises and provide humanitarian assistance when called upon.

US and Royal Australian Navy sailors began a series of anti-submarine warfare exercises off the northeast coast of Australia in support of Talisman Saber 2013 on 16 July 2013. The series of anti-submarine warfare exercises provided the 2 militaries a chance to test scenarios including, but not limiting to, detection and success over simulated opponents, which put the navies' tactical training and communications to the test. Approximately 8,000 US and 1,000 Australian personnel were to participate in the anti-submarine warfare exercises, which would last a few days.

The USS George Washington Carrier Strike Group, Destroyer Squadron 15, and the Australian Defence Force, collaborated in an air defense exercise (ADEX) in support of exercise Talisman Saber 2013 it was reported on 18 July 2013. ADEXs provided combined training and validation for maritime and air operations and flex combined staffs in crisis action planning for contingency operations and humanitarian missions. The ADEX allowed US and Australia air defense assets to execute a pre-planned response to a hostile threat. One scenario conducted was to have US aircraft act as enemy combatants. These aircraft were then intercepted using other US aircraft, ships, and Australian forces. Integrating our forces definitely makes us stronger. During Talisman Saber 2013 HMAS Sydney (FFG 03) was integrated into the GWCSG, and Royal Australian Air Force also provided assets HMAS Sydney, after conducted classroom training, was activated as the alternate air missile defense commander, a function that was tested during the ADEX. The ADEX ended on 22 July 2013.

The USS Lassen (DDG 82) and a Royal Australian Navy submarine participated in a torpedo exercise in the Coral Sea, on 19 July 2013, in support of exercise Talisman Saber 2013. The specific exercise gave more than 400 US Navy and Australian Defence Force crewmembers the opportunity to hone their skills and demonstrate their operating ability as a cohesive unit.

On 20 July 2013, 5 US Air Force C-17s traveled from Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson to drop more than 400 US soldiers from the 1st Battalion, 501st Infantry Regiment into Australia as part of Talisman Saber 2013. After securing the airfield designated in the Shoalwater Bay Training Area, the initial scenario objective, soldiers with 1st Battalion, 501st Infantry Regiment and the Australian Army's 3rd Brigade made it their main priority to work together in order to resupply units with water and food throughout the exercise and other expand the US Army Battalion's footprint to defeat the simulated enemy.

Sailors and marines assigned to the Bonhomme Richard Expeditionary Strike Group participated in a helicopter assault training exercise between 20 and 21 July 2013 during the biennial multi-national exercise Talisman Saber 2013. Over a 2-day period, more than 6 Navy and Marine aircraft conducted flight operations, which included Navy SH-60 Sea Hawks from Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron 25, and Marine UH-1Y Venoms, AH-1W Super Cobras, MV-22 Ospreys, as well as over 400 marine ground troops attached to the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit. The exercise as a whole tested the ability to organize, deploy, and control men and equipment during a simulated war. Almost 200 marines flew ashore via CH-53 Super Stallion helicopters and MV-22 Ospreys. The Navy SH-60 Sea Hawks served as an over-watch for the operation by gathering intelligence and surveillance and reconnaissance, and disseminating that information to ground troops. During the simulated beach assault Landing Craft Air Cushions (LCAC) also moved more than 400 sailors and marines ashore as well. Naval Beach Unit 7 was in charge of the amphibious vehicles used in the assault and coordinated the safe landing of the crafts on the beach.

U.S. and Royal Australian Air Force Airmen flew a combined formation of C-17 aircraft more than 16 hours straight across the Pacific Ocean this past week as part of 18th Air Force's participation in Exercise Talisman Saber 15. Exercise Talisman Sabre is a U.S. Pacific Command - sponsored exercise that trains USPACOM forces in a high-end, mid-intensity warfighting scenario involving a Combined Task Force. As part of the exercise, mobility Airmen airdropped more than 450 Army paratroopers from the 3rd Battalion, 509th Infantry Brigade, and cargo into Kapyong drop zone, Australia.

More than 33,000 forces from the U.S. and Australia participated in Talisman Saber 15. The Australia-U.S. alliance remains a critical defense relationship and a central pillar of each nation's security strategy. This is the sixth iteration of Talisman Sabre since 2005. Eighteenth Air Force provides air mobility forces to combatant commanders and carries out Air Mobility Command's operational role as Air Forces Transportation, the air component of U.S. Transportation Command.

Australia's largest military exercise, Talisman Saber, was officially opened 29 June 2017 aboard the United States Landing Helicopter Dock the USS Bonhomme Richard (BHR) off the Sydney coast. Minister for Urban Development, the Honourable Paul Fletcher MP, representing the Minister for Defence, and the US Charge d'Affaires, Mr James Carouso, officially announced the start of the combined military exercise taking place from late June through to late July. Field training occurred in Shoalwater Bay Training Area, near Rockhampton and Mount Bundy Training Area, south of Darwin.

The Minister was joined by the US Pacific Forces Commander, Admiral ADM Harry B. Harris, Jr and Officer Conducting the Exercise, Australia's Chief of Joint Operations Vice Admiral David Johnston along with other senior Australian Defence Force. Vice Admiral Johnston said the exercise is important to highlight and certify the interoperability between the forces. Talisman Saber is the premier Australia-United States bilateral exercise, Vice Admiral Johnston said. This year, we are pleased to see personnel from New Zealand, Japan and Canada embedded within Australian and United States units.

Over 33,000 military personnel participated in the largest bilateral military exercise between the Australian Defence Force (ADF) and the United States military.

Every two years, the Australian and United States military take part in Exercise Talisman Sabre. The war-games are mostly conducted across northern and eastern Australia. In 2019 defense forces from New Zealand, Canada and Britain participated. For the first time, the Japanese navy was also involved in maneuvers that are designed to foster greater defense cooperation and integration among the allies. Australia and the United States have a military accord dating back to the 1950s, and increasingly the two states have sought greater military ties with Tokyo, a former World War II enemy.



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