In 2005, the then Chief of Navy, Vice Admiral Russ Shalders, described amphibious warfare as “the most complex proposition for the future of Australian Defence Force combat power development to 2025.” Fourteen years later in Exercises SEA EXPLORER and SEA RAIDER, Navy and the broader Australian Defence Force have demonstrated how they’ve stepped up to the challenge.
These amphibious exercises were held in littoral areas between Townsville and Cairns in the lead up the multi-national exercise TALISMAN SABRE, to be held in July.
The activities demonstrated the capacity of the Joint Amphibious Task Group to deliver an array of capabilities projected from HMA Ships Canberra and Adelaide: the first time that the two Landing Helicopter Docks have conducted coordinated amphibious operations together.
Exercises SEA EXPLORER and SEA RAIDER tested the Australian Defence Force’s capacity to execute complex amphibious warfare, as well as stability and security operations, and the evacuation of civilians from uncertain environments.
Almost 2000 full time and reserve personnel from the Royal Australian Navy, Australian Army, Royal Australian Air Force, Royal New Zealand Navy, United States Marine Corps, US Navy, US Army and the Royal Marines were coordinated across the land, sea, air and beaches during the activities, which included many firsts for the Australian Defence Force.
Commander of the Amphibious Task Force, Captain Paul O'Grady said the activities were a key part of building and delivering a highly capable amphibious force, ready to deploy as required by Government.
“The Sea Series demonstrates our growing capabilities and builds confidence that we can operate effectively across the full spectrum of amphibious operations, up to and including high end warfighting.
“Every year our capabilities are developing by leaps and bounds.
“This year saw not only the two Landing Helicopter Docks operating together for the first time, but also the sea basing of Army's Armed Reconnaissance Helicopters from Canberra - adding potent firepower that can be brought to bear against land and maritime targets alike.
“We also demonstrated a capability to coordinate complex aviation and dock operations from both ships, including a night vertical replenishment of the Army’s M777 Howitzers,” Captain O'Grady said.
Commander Landing Forces, Australian Army Colonel Kim Gilfillan, said the tempo of the exercises had accelerated every day and many people were working together for the first time.
“The cooperative and professional approach of our people, responding to challenges, putting people at the centre of our decision making and supporting innovation meant that were able to overcome many of the frictions and challenges that the exercises offered.
“We go into the TALISMAN SABRE series with a robust and confident capability, ready to test our interoperability and ensuring we are prepared to integrate into broader multinational operations,” Colonel Gilfillan said.
The Sea Series exercises will conclude on 5 July.