Exercise Talisman Saber

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Soldiers from the 3rd Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment during Exercise Talisman Saber 2005

Exercise Talisman Saber (also spelled Talisman Sabre, the spelling alternating between US and Australia) is a biennial joint Australia-United States military exercise. Talisman Saber involves joint exercises performed by the Australian Defence Force and the United States Military across six locations in northern and central Australia, the Coral Sea, and in Honolulu, Denver, and Suffolk, Va., though the bulk of the exercises are concentrated at the Shoalwater Bay Military Training Area and other locations in northern and central Australia and Australia's territorial sea and exclusive economic zone.[1]

To reflect its bilateral nature, leadership of the exercise switches between Australia and the US every 2 years; primary leadership is reflected in the varied spelling of Saber/Sabre.[2] The exercise focuses on crisis-action planning and contingency response, enhancing both nations’ military capabilities to deal with regional contingencies and the War on Terrorism. Five exercises have been held in 2005, 2007, 2009, 2011 and 2013.

Annual exercises[edit]

Talisman Saber 2005 was the inaugural exercise in this series, conducted 12–27 June 2005, in Shoalwater Bay, Rockhampton, Townsville, and the Coral Sea, with 16,000 US and Australian troops. Planning for the exercises began in early 2003, and the exercise was meant to combine elements from previous exercises Tandem Thrust, Kingfisher and Crocodile. During the exercise, U.S. Pacific Command and Australian Defense Force Joint Operations Command jointly executed more than 25 landing craft, air cushion (LCAC) trips and more than 1,300 Australian S-70A Blackhawk and MH-60S Knight Hawk landings and takeoffs.[3][4]

Talisman Sabre 2007 involved 26,000 US and Australian troops over 10 June – 25 July. The exercise primarily took place at Shoalwater Bay, the Townsville Field Training Area, and the Bradshaw Field Training Area in central Queensland and in the Northern Territory. The exercise also involved the use of civilian airports including Sydney and Brisbane, and RAAF Base Amberley. A focal point of the exercises was a joint amphibious landing that involved the launch of more than 2,500 personnel from six ships early on 20 June.[5][6][7]

Talisman Saber 2009 was conducted 6–25 July 2009, with 10,000 Australian land and naval forces and 20,000 U.S. troops. The exercise was led by the United States and was conducted primarily at Shoalwater Bay and the Townsville Field Training Area. It involved various amphibious assault exercises and ship defense exercises.[8][9]

Talisman Sabre 2011 was conducted in July 2011 and was led by Australian forces.[10][11] It incorporated "combined Special Forces operations, parachute drops, amphibious (marine) landings, land force manoeuvres, urban and air operations and the coordinated firing of live ammunition."[12]

Talisman Sabre 2013 will see MV-22s deployed to Australia for the first time.[13] Involved approximately 21,000 US and 7,000 AUS personnel with Carrier Strike Group Five, Expeditionary Strike Group Seven, Royal Australian Navy, Royal Australian Air Force, and SPS Cantabria (A15).[14][15]

Opposition and protests[edit]

Protest during Exercise Talisman Sabre 2007

There were a number of protests against the exercise in 2007. These protests were motivated by concerns over the possibility of environmental damage to the Shoalwater Bay region and opposition to military exercises which simulate offensive operations.[citation needed]

There was opposition to Talisman Sabre 2007 from peace activists and a number of environmental groups, with environmental concerns ranging from general military contamination, to the purported damaging effects of sonar on local marine life.[16] The Australian and American militaries have previously recognised the environmental concerns of operating in this area, with troops undergoing environmental impact briefings before arriving at the location in 2005, and an environmental training centre to be constructed before the 2007 exercise.[17]

United States Marines from the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit train at Shoalwater Bay during Talisman Sabre 2007.

Environmental concerns[edit]

There have been concerns that depleted uranium munitions, which have been linked to increased incidence of cancer, posing significant health risks, have been used at the Shoalwater Bay Military Training Area during Exercise Talisman Saber. Prior to the 2005 exercise the Australian Department of Defence issued a press release which stated that depleted uranium "will not be used in TS05 by either Australian or US forces" and that this was "unequivocal".[18] This commitment was reiterated prior to Talisman Saber 2009.[19]

References[edit]

  1. ^ This story was written by Tech. Sgt. Kerry Jackson. "Exercise Talisman Saber concludes". Af.mil. Retrieved 2013-02-19. 
  2. ^ "Exercise Talisman Saber 2009 - Department of Defence". Defence.gov.au. Retrieved 2013-02-19. 
  3. ^ This story was written by Photographer’s Mate 2nd Class (AW) D. Arthur Jones and Photographer’s Mate 3rd Class James Bartels, USS Boxer Public Affairs. "Boxer Completes Talisman Saber 2005". Navy.mil. Retrieved 2013-02-19. 
  4. ^ [1][dead link]
  5. ^ [2][dead link]
  6. ^ John Pike. "Australian-U.S. Expeditionary Forces Complete Talisman Saber 2007". Globalsecurity.org. Retrieved 2013-02-19. 
  7. ^ "U.S. Joint Forces Command supports Exercise Talisman Saber 2007". Aircav.com. Retrieved 2013-02-19. 
  8. ^ This story was written by Tech. Sgt. Kerry Jackson. "Exercise Talisman Saber concludes". Af.mil. Retrieved 2013-02-19. 
  9. ^ This story was written by USS George Washington Public Affairs. "George Washington Carrier Strike Group Begins Talisman Saber". Navy.mil. Retrieved 2013-02-19. 
  10. ^ http://www.talismansabre2011.com.au/about.html
  11. ^ http://www.talismansabre2011.com.au/locations.html
  12. ^ http://www.talismansabre2011.com.au/files/ExTS11.pdf
  13. ^ "20,000 US troops descend on Australia for training."
  14. ^ "Talisman Saber 2013publisher=DOD Australia". Retrieved 2013-08-16. 
  15. ^ "Exercise Talisman Saber fleet prepares for battle". Department of Defence (Australia). 25 July 2013. Retrieved 2013-10-14. 
  16. ^ Friends of the Earth produced a submission to the Maunsell Public Environment Report, which has been published online by Melbourne Indymedia, 13 November 2006. This submission details the environmental and social impact the war games will have.
  17. ^ PO2 Charles A. Isom Jr. Environment Gets Kid-Glove Handling During Talisman Saber '05. Published online at DefenseLINK News, June 2005. Accessed 27 November 2006
  18. ^ Australian Department of Defence media release DEPLETED URANIUM. 7 June 2005.
  19. ^ "Exercise Talisman Saber 2009 - Department of Defence". Defence.gov.au. Retrieved 2013-02-19. 

External links[edit]