ABOARD USS BOXER (NNS) -- USS Boxer (LHD 4), flagship to Australian Commodore Davyd Thomas, Combined Forces Maritime Component Commander (CFMCC), and Rear Adm. Victor Guillory, Deputy CFMCC, completed the inaugural Exercise Talisman Saber June 27.
Boxer, along with USS Fitzgerald (DDG 62), USS John Paul Jones (DDG 53), Assault Craft Unit 5, Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron 25, HMAS Manoora, HMAS Ballarat, the Australian 5th Aviation Regiment and the Australian 1st Armored Brigade worked hard to make the exercise a success.
"Talisman Saber is a key exercise in the Pacific Fleet area of responsibility and a demonstration of support and solidarity between two nations committed to democracy, liberty and human rights," said Capt. Thomas J. Culora, Boxer's commanding officer. "It is a tangible expression of mutual respect and pledge of assistance."
This exercise provided a unique venue for Australian and U.S. forces to strengthen their bond and increase the already-strong interoperability between the two allies. Because it enabled the forces to learn new and innovative ways to accomplish a wide array of missions, the exercise was a success for the 16,000 Australian and U.S. service members involved.
During the course of Talisman Saber, Australians and Americans combined their efforts tirelessly to perform 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, occasionally working as late as 2 a.m. The energy expended during the operations accounted for the more than 70 tons of food that was consumed during Talisman Saber.
Planning for Talisman Saber, a combination of what were once exercises Tandem Thrust, Kingfisher and Crocodile, commenced in early 2003. The biennial exercise was jointly sponsored by the U.S. Pacific Command and Australian Defense Force Joint Operations Command, and served as a key training venue for Commander, U.S. 7th Fleet, as a combined task force in a short-warning, power projection and forcible entry scenario.
The multifaceted training scenario established force integrations for the respective forces, who engaged in a command post exercise, a force-on-force and live-fire field training exercise and a strategic air drop. Collectively, the events built unanimity in Australian and U.S. forces and introduced challenges during intensive operations. Each event developed crisis action planning and execution of contingency response operations. Units shared important skills and understanding necessary to prepare for real world events in the future that may require joint operations on land and at sea.
"It was a sincere pleasure to operate with members of the Royal Australian Navy and the Australian Army," said Culora. "I was tremendously impressed by their professionalism, energy and 'can do' attitude. I think our entire group learned a great deal. The experience has made us all more professional."
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