American/Australian Planners Spent Two Years Preparing for Talisman Sabre Exercise
August 5, 2011
KOKODA BARRACKS, Cunungra, Australia " Two years before 23,000 Australians and Americans kicked off Exercise Talisman Sabre on July 11; 500 Americans and Australians thrown together as Combined Forces Land Component Command (CFLCC) started planning for that day.
From concept development"a scenario in which Australians and Americans intervene to enforce a United Nations order"to identifying forces, to ironing out staff arrangements, the CFLCC (pronounced cee-flick) worked out the details.
“The coordination allowed a practical exchange of information and an opportunity to identify doctrinal differences and similarities, said 1st Sgt. Oskar Ramirez, Operations Sgt. Major assigned to U.S. Army Pacific.
“We were able to mesh our processes and establish a level of fidelity long before arriving in Australia,” Ramirez added.
The Talisman Sabre CFLCC combined 120 members of the California Army National Guard’s 40th Infantry Division with Soldiers U.S. Army Pacific and the Australian 1st Division.
The massive biennial exercises incorporated roughly 23,000 U.S. and Australian military personnel from all branches of service in Australia, July 11 " 29, to train together and enhance their combined and joint war fighting skills.
The scenario outlined a situation in which two countries have been occupied by an enemy force and a third nation, with United States and Australian support is prepared to eject the enemy.
Staff sections conducted subject matter expert exchanges to work with their counterparts to iron out details and determine how responsibilities differ, as well as focus on strategic, operational and tactical elements of the exercise.
The final phase was the implementation of the training exercises incorporating combined land force maneuvers, amphibious landings, urban and air operations, Special Forces operations, and coordinated firing of live ammunition from a range of in-service weapons systems used by exercise participants.
As the scenario played out, the CFLCC kept track of numerous fictitious battles which encompass combined ground force campaigns and training maneuvers with over 10,000 military forces from roughly a dozen units.
Although the ground maneuvers took place within a one-week window, the exercise scenarios incorporate numerous engagements to test the combined operations staffs in crisis action planning which will enhance their ability to conduct contingency response operations and humanitarian missions.
“The forces will experience an unrealistic amount of activity. What would be expected to take up to six months to accomplish on the battlefield, take place in a week,” explained Australian Major Roger Pointon, Executive Officer assigned to the Headquarters 1st Division, Australian Defence Force and Talisman Sabre planner.
“It provides a fast paced " high energy environment to test military skills, both for the commanders and the soldiers on the battlefield,” Pointon added.
All exercise plans and operations are designed to enable thousands of ground forces from the U.S. and Australian military to exchange combat skills and techniques.
While 10,000 troops participated in the maneuvers, computer systems simulated another additional 45,000 troops that commanders were responsible for and played key roles in the fight.
“Although the battles take place in a condensed time frame all aspects of battle are tested and realistic rules apply. The commanders must utilize all their assets as if they were actually there,” Pointon stressed.
“If a unit fails to requisition the proper amount of fuel, then their tanks won’t move. If a unit has experienced casualties, they must notify their headquarters they need to be reinforced,” Pointon added.
In addition to tracking the movement of all ground forces and activities within the scenario, the CFLCC also had they responsibility of taking care of ground force personnel spread out at six Defence training areas in central and northern Queensland and the northern territory of Australia.
Taking care of these troops meant ensuring people are fed, housed, have medical support if needed, have the equipment and fuel they need and are in the right place at the right time to perform duties.
“The entire collaboration has been a model of what you can do in a combined headquarters. The planning and the exercise is going as good as it can possibly go, if the exercise was longer it could only get better,” said Major Christopher Walter, project officer assigned to the 40th Inf. Div. and exercise planner for U.S. ground forces.
Whether assigned at the combined forces headquarters level or out in the bush, the same level of cooperation and integration is taking place. A common sight throughout Talisman Sabre is the multitude of U.S. and Australian uniforms working side by side.
“Our armies have similar language, values and cultures. The strong personal relationships we have built and the partnerships we have established only strengthen further integration and alliance with our Australian counterparts,” Walter said.