Talisman Saber 2015

30,000 troops, 21 ships, three submarines, and 200 aircraft will take part in Australia's largest ever combined arms drill.

The biennial Talisman Saber(T.S.) exercise represents the close bond between Australia and the United States, as thousands of U.S. marines, sailors, soldiers, and special forces train with their Australian counterparts, forging new ties between commanders in the Pacific and solidifying new objectives.

After Tuesday’s kick-off, the 25th Infantry Division parachuted onto Kapyong Airfield with the Aussies and the George Washington Carrier Strike Group (CSG) joined in, bringing with them a flotilla of ships, including: USS George Washington (CVN-73), guided missile cruiser USS Antietam(CG-54), guided-missile destroyers USS Chafee (DDG-90), USS Mustin (DDG-89) and USS Fitzgerald (DDG-62), USS Bonhomme Richard (LHD 6), amphibious dock landing ship USS Ashland (LSD 48) and the landing platform dock USS Greenbay (LPD-20).

In the past, T.S. was focused on counter insurgency operations and humanitarian aid, reflecting the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. However, this year takes a different turn. T.S. 2015 makes a pivot towards conventional sea, land, and air warfare with a special emphasis on amphibious landings.

“Talisman Saber offers us the opportunity to enhance our amphibious operations skills while working alongside the Australian Defense Force,” said Col. Romin Dasmalchi, the 31st MEU commanding officer. “Over the next few days, the 31st MEU will demonstrate the full range of our operational amphibious capabilities alongside our Australian allies as we work with them to refine their own amphibious capabilities.”

When the George Washington Carrier Strike Group entered Australian territorial waters, they brought along some extra baggage, the Okinawa-based 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit (31 MEU). This is why the LHD, LSD, and LPD were part of the flotilla. The 2,000 strong Marine force is a signal that the U.S. is getting serious about its role in the Pacific.

Japan is joining the exercise for the first time, and though they are just sending observers, it shows their interest in learning the art of amphibious landings along with interoperability. These are the skills Japan and Australia will need in a potential conflict with China.

With China becoming increasingly aggressive, combined with its recent land reclamation, and stationing of weapons on artificial islands, Australia and Japan are welcomed partners in preserving the balance of power.

Shot and Produced by: SSG Robert Ham, U.S. Army. Shot entirely in Australia on the Canon 1DC and the Nikon D800.

Talisman Saber will continue until July 21st.

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