Maritime Task Group building relationships

Published on LEUT Anthony Martin (author), ABAVN Susan Mossop (photographer), ABIS Leo Baumgartner (photographer)

Topic(s): HMAS Canberra (L02), HMAS Adelaide (L01), Exercise TALISMAN SABRE

Commander Air Terrence Garside monitors close quarter ship movements from the Flight Control of HMAS Canberra. (photo: ABAVN Susan Mossop)
Commander Air Terrence Garside monitors close quarter ship movements from the Flight Control of HMAS Canberra.

One of the successful outcomes from Plan Pelorus has been the Royal Australian Navy routinely raising and deploying Maritime Task Groups.

This has created a demand for Task Group Command Staff and the subsequent creation of the Australian Maritime Task Group (AUSMTG).

Established in early 2019, AUSMTG conducted its first operations deploying as a key sea-going element of exercises OCEAN EXPLORER 2019 and INDO-PACIFIC ENDEAVOUR 2019.

Following a short break at the completion of INDO-PACIFIC ENDEAVOUR, the AUSMTG embarked in HMAS Canberra for Exercise TALISMAN SABRE 2019 (TS19) - one of the largest multi-national military exercises in the Pacific region.

As the Sea Combat Commander for TS19, the AUSMTG commanded ships, helicopters and Maritime Patrol Aircraft from Australia, the United States, Canada and Japan.

A column of United States Navy ships manoeuvre into formation during Exercise TALISMAN SABRE 2019.

A column of United States Navy ships manoeuvre into formation during Exercise TALISMAN SABRE 2019.

AUSMTG strives to meet the goal of early collaboration to quickly establish key relationships with contributing forces.

This collaborative approach extends beyond the exercise confines and contributes greatly to Australian Defence Force operating in the South West Pacific and South East Asia, enhancing the relationship with regional navies and key partners.

When establishing and maintaining these important relationships, understanding context is key.

The AUSMTG is maximising capability and is ready for potential challenges including cultural, language, and working closely with Australian Government agencies such as the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.

“Positive communication is the key,” Lieutenant Commander Stephen Wall - an AUSMTG Warfare Officer - said.

“We use telephone, voice over internet protocol and email, but nothing beats face to face when working with our partner navies and armed forces,” he said.

Each time the Task Group is deployed to either Australian or international exercises, experience within the group is enhanced. This enhancement covers all dimensions of Maritime Warfare, below, on and above water.

Australia brings experience and technical expertise to this role.

The collaborative approach when working with regional navies has delivered excellent results, providing mutual benefits, lessons learned, and simple solutions to complex issues being developed by all the contributing nations.

As a lateral transfer officer from the Canadian Navy, Lieutenant Commander Wall has enjoyed the opportunity to work with regional partners, emerging technology and the new platforms coming online in the Royal Australian Navy.

“Being a member of the Australian Maritime Task Group has put me in the best position to view these advancements first-hand,” Lieutenant Commander Wall said.

The AUSMTG has a busy year ahead following TS19, with planning underway for an East Asian Deployment and other multi-national exercises in the second half of 2019.

The Commander of AUSMTG, Captain Andrew Quinn, said he was proud of the achievements the members of the Task Group have delivered to the Sea Combat capability.

“A key achievement worth noting has been the smooth execution of the integration with Task Group units,” Captain Quinn said.

TS19 also delivered new successes for the Royal Australian Navy and the Australian Defence Force.

“Having the two LHDs - Canberra and Adelaide - within TALISMAN SABRE 2019 we were able to deploy both the Amphibious Task Group and Maritime Task Group simultaneously,” Captain Quinn said.

“I also believe this is the first time Australia has been the Sea Combat Commander based upon an Australian platform,” he added.

TALISMAN SABRE 2019 imagery is available on the Defence Image Gallery:
https://images.defence.gov.au