SHOAL WATER BAY TRAINING AREA, Australia (NNS) -- Highlighted by a dynamic scheme of maneuvers and elevated command and control, Talisman Saber 2007 expeditionary forces noted professional relationships as the cornerstone for this year's exercise, which officially concluded July 3.
The overall exercise lasted more than a month and half, beginning with a computer-simulated command post exercise, then transitioning to at sea force integration workups, followed by field training and concluding with live naval gunfire.
From an expeditionary level, naval and ground forces from the U.S. and Australia combined to conduct an amphibious landing and then follow-on support from sea while ground forces worked to complete a set of exercise objectives. Australians and Americans worked side by side throughout from senior commanders to enlisted members, leading the way to solidifying interoperability between the two nations and the formation of lasting friendships.
Expeditionary senior leaders said the biennial exercise clearly met its objectives of bringing Australia and United States forces together in a joint and combined environment to prepare both nations in crisis action planning and the execution of contingency operations, thus improving interoperability and combat readiness.
"There was never a gap in our ability to communicate and jointly coordinate the various parts and pieces to achieve mission accomplishment for the exercise," said Rear Adm. Carol M. Pottenger, Expeditionary Strike Group 7 Commander, who embarked USS Essex (LHD 2) along with members of the flag staff for the exercise.
"I give a lot of credit to the Australians for their high level of expertise and military professionalism. Because they brought that to the table from the start, we were able to become a powerful team, one that I think we all look forward to being part of again," Pottenger added.
The apex expeditionary activity, among several important evolutions, was the combined landing of ground forces from a combined amphibious task force, which launched more than 2,500 personnel across six ships in the morning hours of June 20.
Once ashore, ground forces of both nations engaged a simulated enemy and restored peace to a given area.
With ESG 7 flagship Essex providing the sea-based platform for communications and logistic support ashore, ground forces met all mission benchmarks.
The combined force land component commander, Australian Army Brig. Gen. John G. Caligari, alongside U.S. Marine Corps Col. John L. Mayer, commanding officer of the 3d Marine Expeditionary Brigade's 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit, were able to go back and forth between the field and the command and control nucleus of Essex. That versatility allowed them to get both the ground level and overall picture to make crucial decisions, according to Caligari.
Both ground-service leaders and their command staffs transitioned off Essex June 24 to move into a combined operational center ashore and complete the remaining Talisman Saber objectives.
"It was a phenomenal asset, using Essex, to be able to have the communication suite and the ship-to-shore capabilities, to conduct operations in the manner we have," said Caligari, just before fully transitioning off of Essex.
In describing the back and forth movement prior to the final move ashore, he said, "Not only can we meet with ground commanders [on a daily basis], but we also have face-to-face exchange with our naval counterparts, to ensure that we have everything in place to move forward."
The Essex flagplot, the strike group's nerve center, brought together an all-encompassing mix of senior leaders and their staffs, which included ESG 7, Amphibious Squadron (PHIBRON) 11 and the Royal Australian Navy's Commander Australian Amphibious Task Group; on the ground forces side, Caligari's 3rd Brigade teamed up with Mayer's 31st MEU.
"I think our staffs and every service member involved worked very closely together," said Royal Australian Navy Capt. Peter G. Laver, commanding officer, Commander Australian Amphibious Task Group. "We have enjoyed the camaraderie and friendship of working with our American counterparts. It has been a greatly rewarding experience to work side-by-side with them."
Expeditionary Strike Group 7/Task Force 76 is the Navy's only forward-deployed amphibious force. Task Force 76 is headquartered at White Beach Naval Facility, Okinawa, Japan, with an operating detachment in Sasebo, Japan. The 3rd Marine Expeditionary Brigade is headquartered in Okinawa, Japan.
For more information, please visit www.ctf76.navy.mil.
For more news from Commander, Amphibious Force, U.S. 7th Fleet, visit www.news.navy.mil/local/ctf76/.