The biennial joint U.S.-Australian exercise Talisman Saber 2013 concluded with a ceremony hosted by the commander of U.S. Pacific Command, aboard the U.S. 7th Fleet flagship USS Blue Ridge (LCC 19) in Cairns, Australia, July 29.
Talisman Saber is a joint exercise sponsored by U.S. Pacific Command and Australian Defence Force (ADF) Headquarters Joint Operations Command that incorporates components of the U.S. Army, Navy, Marine Corps and Air Force, the Australian Defence Force and other government agencies from each country.
U.S. non-government organizations (NGO) included USAID, Red Cross and Departments of State, Justice and Agriculture and Australian NGOs included the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Australian Civil Corps and the Asia-Pacific Civil-Military Centre of Excellence.
“TS-13 has been a great demonstration of the alliance between the U.S. and Australia,” said Adm. Samuel J. Locklear, III, commander, U.S. Pacific Command. “I want to thank each and every one of you for your great performance during this important operation.”
Talisman Saber is a realistic and challenging exercise that improves both nations’ ability to work multilaterally and prepares them to be poised to provide security regionally and globally. More than 70 different major training events were thrown at the combined team of watchstanders, analysts, planners, and managers, with a team of training observers watching closely.
“The most important thing I do as 7th Fleet commander is build relationships with allies, partners, and friends; with various naval peers in the region; with other service peers, Army and Air Force,” said Vice Adm. Scott H. Swift, commander, U.S. 7th Fleet and TS13 commander. “That’s Talisman Saber.”
Providing command and control of the exercise from Blue Ridge, the combined task force supported each component of land, air, sea and special operations in the area surrounding Australia. Based on fictional scenarios, the exercise included combined Special Forces operations, parachute drops, amphibious landings, land force maneuvers, urban and air operations and the coordinated firing of live ammunition from a range of in-service weapons systems used by exercise participants. The fictional scenarios were designed to bring the different branches of the Australian and U.S. military together in a combined environment.
“For Australia it’s been very valuable; the U.S. bringing to the activity and scale that we are not used to but we’re comfortable working. So the layout of integration was high,” said Australian Brig. Gen. David Coghlan, TS13 deputy commander. “Aboard the Blue Ridge, I had about a hundred Australian defense personnel who have integrated very well and throughout the fleet.”
The closing ceremony took place aboard Blue Ridge and was a chance for Locklear to speak to both 7th Fleet and ADF members. The ceremony also included distinguished guests ble James Choi, crisis response control group lead for Talisman Saber, Niels Marquardt, U.S. consul general, and Australian Army Gen. David Hurley, chief of Australian Defence Force.
Talisman Saber included more than 27,000 U.S. and Australian personnel, was aimed at improving ADF and U.S. combat readiness and interoperability as a Combined Joint Task Force. The exercise was designed to enhance multilateral collaboration in support of future combined operations, humanitarian emergencies and natural disasters. This exercise was a major undertaking and illustrated the closeness of the US and Australian alliance and the strength of the military-to-military relationship.
Press Release, July 31, 2013; Image: US Navy