US Marines to join allied troops in Australia for combined force exercise
Stars and Stripes June 6, 2023
U.S. Marines in Australia will kick off a month of field training alongside Australian and Japanese troops next week, a precursor to one of the largest military exercises in the Pacific the following month.
The exercise, Southern Jackaroo, is taking place between June 15 and mid-July, Maj. Matthew Wolf, a spokesman for Marine Rotational Force — Darwin, said by phone Tuesday.
“Combined and integrated force elements with our allies demonstrate our commitment to a safe and secure region,” Australian army Brigadier Michael Say, commander of the Brisbane-based 7th Brigade, tweeted on May 27.
Three days later, he tweeted a video of Australian soldiers towing M-777 howitzers in preparation for the drills.
U.S. and Australian officials did not provide details of the number of troops or units participating in the exercise Tuesday.
A Japan Ground Self-Defense Force spokesman declined by phone to release information about its involvement with the exercise since it is still being coordinated. Japanese government officials often speak to the media on condition of anonymity.
Last year, 700 troops from all three nations participated in Southern Jackaroo, held each year since 2015.
Japan and Australia have developed amphibious forces akin to the U.S. Marines in recent years.
In October, Japan and Australia signed a reciprocal access agreement that set the foundation for regular military exchanges on one another’s territory.
The three nations’ amphibious forces may find themselves working together on anything from disaster response to intense combat, according to Ross Babbage, a former Australian assistant defense secretary.
“Relevant forces of the three countries gain a lot from working together and sharing lessons,” he said in an email Monday. “There are no downsides.”
Next month, all three nations will participate in Talisman Sabre, a biennial exercise in Australia that’s scheduled to draw approximately 30,000 personnel.
Talisman Sabre this year is scheduled from July 22 to Aug. 4 with troops from the United Kingdom, Canada, Germany, France, New Zealand, South Korea, Indonesia, Fiji, Tonga and Papua New Guinea. Personnel from the Philippines, Singapore and Thailand will observe, the Australian government said in April.
Stars and Stripes reporter Hana Kusumoto contributed to this report.