US, allies wrapping up Talisman Sabre exercise
July 17, 2015
U.S., Australian, New Zealand and Japanese commanders are hoping to declare victory over a fictitious enemy on Saturday during the biennial Talisman Sabre exercise.
The sixth installment of the exercise — which began July 4 and involves more than 33,000 personnel conducting air, sea and land operations in Australia, Hawaii and San Diego — ends Sunday.
Talisman Sabre is primarily concerned with testing U.S. and Australian troops’ ability to work together in battle, Air Commodore Chris Westwood of the Royal Australian Air Force said Friday.
However, he added: “We have Kiwis (New Zealanders) embedded in the Australian team and Japanese embedded in the U.S. team.”
U.S. Navy Lt. Lauren Cole, a 7th Fleet public affairs officer, said the exercise was a chance for Japanese and New Zealand troops to see how U.S. and Australian forces work together.
Westwood has been aboard the 7th Fleet flagship USS Blue Ridge for the duration of Talisman Sabre, acting as chief of staff to the commander of the U.S. 7th Fleet.
Meanwhile, tens of thousands of troops, 150 aircraft and 25 ships have been testing their capabilities in the field.
“We have folks in Brisbane (Australia) running a land campaign…the maritime folks are doing the same thing in San Diego,” Westwood said. “We are fully simulating a high-end war-fighting environment.”
The exercise has tested commanders’ ability to make decisions ahead of the enemy, and it has involved civilian diplomats working alongside the military, he said.
“Our aim is to restore security and stability in a fictitious nation and hand it over to a legitimate government,” he said.
Australian Army Maj. Gen. Stuart Smith, deputy commander of a combined task force involved in Talisman Sabre, said this year’s exercise encompassed a larger area than past events.
“Virtual and live training was stretched from the Shoalwater Bay Training Area in Central Queensland (Australia) to the Fog Bay/Bradshaw Field Training Area, in the Top End of the Northern Territory (Australia),” he said in comments forwarded by military public affairs. “The USS Blue Ridge played a vital role in commanding and controlling the combined force across this vast area.”
A key characteristic of the exercise was the integration of the U.N. Security Council Resolution 1325 for Women, Peace and Security, he said.
“Planning and execution focused on measures to limit the impact of conflict on women and children, and ensuring the involvement of women in post conflict reconstruction,” Smith said.
Those involved in the exercise will be tired by the end of it, but that many will have made new friendships, Westwood said.
“I hope that somewhere around 11 a.m. tomorrow we can declare victory,” he said.