Pacific neighbours impressed by show of force

Published on LEUT Ben Robson (author), SGT Jake Sims (photographer)

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

HMAS Adelaide conducts amphibious operations off the coast of Bowen, Queensland, during Exercise TALISMAN SABRE 2019. (photo: Sergeant Jake Sims)
HMAS Adelaide conducts amphibious operations off the coast of Bowen, Queensland, during Exercise TALISMAN SABRE 2019.

Senior officers from Australia’s Pacific neighbours were among representatives from 15 nations who had a closer look at HMAS Adelaide during Exercise TALISMAN SABRE 2019 (TS19).

The guests included military observers from Fiji, India, Indonesia, the Philippines, Vietnam, Tonga and Japan, seeing first-hand the vast undertaking required to execute a large-scale and complex amphibious exercise. 

Lieutenant Colonel Tony Aseavu, the acting Chief of Joint Operations of the Papua New Guinea Defence Force, was impressed with the cooperation he saw.

“This exercise has given us a lot of insight into what the powers can do when they work together,” Lieutenant Colonel Aseavu said.

“They complement each other.

“For us in the South Pacific, where we don’t have as much of a capability but we are in the Rim of Fire and we are prone to disaster, we know we can call on this capability to assist us.” 

The guests had been invited by the Department of Defence’s International Policy Division, and had earlier witnessed an amphibious assault by exercise participants on Bowen, Queensland.

It was a demonstration of power and the ability to deliver humanitarian assistance in times of crises.

“It was a tremendous event to witness and must have taken a tremendous amount of planning to conduct,” Colonel Charles Western of the United States Marine Corps said.

“Interoperability, we’ve demonstrated it today. Can we get better, yes, but to see it executed was incredible.”

About 34,000 personnel have taken part in the exercise, with forces from the United States, the United Kingdom, Japan and New Zealand embedded within the Australian Defence Force.

Air Commodore Ian Mower from the New Zealand Defence Force said he was most impressed by the combined efforts on display during TS19.

“We’re here to see the exercise construct itself, how the nations work and how they all come together,” Air Commodore Mower said.

“And there is an interest from a New Zealand perspective to see how our forces have integrated into the exercise.

“Overall it’s about how we can contribute, how we can bring our forces together and integrate into a larger coalition and be effective and efficient in our work with our friends and partners.

“At a tactical, operational and strategic level, seeing these countries working together in a combined sense has been the most impressive takeaway.”

Also visiting Adelaide were Major General Shinichi Aoki, the Commanding General of the Amphibious Rapid Deployment Brigade, and Rear Admiral Tsutomu Shirane, Commander Mine Warfare Force, of the Japan Ground Self-Defense Force.

TALISMAN SABRE 2019 imagery is available on the Defence Image Gallery: