FOG BAY, Australia -- Nearly 5,000 Marines from the Pacific region joined with the Australian Defence Force Exercise Talisman Sabre 15, July 4.
Talisman Sabre is a 15-day bilateral exercise held across the Pacific Basin, including California, Washington and Hawaii with the bulk of the personnel scattered across the Northern Territory of Australia. This year marks the sixth iteration of the training and with 21 ships, three submarines, more than 200 aircraft, and approximately 30,000 U.S. and Australian service members participating, was the largest.
During the training, the Marines were able to test and train with various weapons systems, including the High Mobility Artillery Rocket System. The artillery system has never been fired during Talisman Sabre exercises.
“This is the first time we’ve actually employed HIMARS in Australia,” said Maj. Harry Marshall, force fires coordinator with 3rd Marine Expeditionary Brigade. “It’s truly an expeditionary fire support asset.”
The Marines conducted an amphibious landing alongside their Australian counterparts on beaches around the country during the exercise. Training like this has been rooted in Marine Corps heritage since World War II.
The exercise is designed to create a combined, joint environment between the allied nations to increase both countries’ abilities to plan and execute operations from combat missions to humanitarian assistance efforts.
I Marine Expeditionary Force, III Marine Expeditionary Force and 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit supported the exercise through logistical, infantry, artillery, amphibious and air assets.
“This is a tremendous opportunity for us,” said Lt. Gen. John Wissler, commanding general of III Marine Expeditionary Force. “It gives us an opportunity to execute every one of our capabilities, all the way from execution of live fire with our small arms, local indirect fire weapons (like mortars), all the way through our artillery and rockets, and ultimately through our fixed wing aviation and rotary wing close air support.”
Australia and U.S. have fought alongside each other in every major conflict in the past century.
The countries’ strong history of combined training played an important role during Operation Damayan when the U.S. and Australia worked to bring aid to the Philippines after Typhoon Haiyan in 2013.
“Our ability to train together has proven in the past, for example, typhoon relief in the Philippines, and will prove again very valuable, I’m sure, that we can interoperate and coordinate with our partners from Australia,” said Wissler.
Exercises like TS-15 not only provide effective and intense training to prepare forces for potential future operations, but strengthen the bond between the countries and their militaries.
“We’ve been planning for this for about two years,” said Royal Australian Navy Vice Adm. David Johnston, Chief of Joint Operations for Australian Defence Force. “This is where the Australian military forces join with the U.S. to practice those skill sets that are critical to our ability to conduct operations, which could be a short notice humanitarian assistance or disaster relief operation, all the way through to much more complex operations.”
The exercise is scheduled to wrap up July 19. Since 2005, the exercise has been conducted every other year. It is one of many exercises in which the U.S. and Australian militaries train together. Currently, ongoing operations between the nations include the Marine Rotational Force-Darwin and the Pacific Partnership program, the largest humanitarian and civic assistance mission in the Indo-Asia Pacific.
“What (we have) is the great partnership that we have been able to build and continue to build with our Australian partners in this exercise,” said Wissler. “The friendships and partnerships and relationships that we build here will be very helpful wherever we meet each other somewhere around the world.”