U.S. and Australian Army commanders discuss Talisman Sabre

By Spc. Richard CarlisiJuly 27, 2023

More than 30,000 U.S., Australian and other international military personnel are participating in exercise Talisman Sabre until early August in order to strengthen relationships and interoperability among key allies and partners while enhancing the collective capability to maintain a free and open Indo-Pacific.

As a large-scale, bilateral military exercise between Australia and the United States, the exercise is enhancing collective capabilities to respond to a wide array of potential security concerns.

“This is the biggest, most ambitious Talisman Sabre ever,” said Australian Army Col. Ben McLennan, commander of Australia’s Combat Training Center (CTC). “We are calling it the Olympics of wargames. It is the most immersive, realistic, no consequence training environment that we could possibly create.”

Talisman Sabre is a U.S. Indo-Pacific Command (USINDOPACOM)-jointly sponsored exercise that trains USINDOPACOM and Australian Defence Forces (ADF) in a high-end, mid-intensity warfighting scenario involving a Combined Task Force (CTF). USINDOPACOM Forces and the ADF will establish, constitute and bolster command and control of U.S. and Australian forces that will enable assessment of the primary training audiences in order to exercise combined operational warfighting in the Indo-Pacific theater against a fictional enemy on fictional terrain.

“This iteration of Talisman Sabre brings a lot of firsts,” said U.S. Army Col. Bryan Martin, operations group commander for Joint Pacific Multinational Readiness Center (JPMRC). “We are fully integrated in developing interoperability with the Australian CTC to increase the capacity and capability of both our armies to exercise in the Indo-Pacific.”

Conducted biennially since 2005, Talisman Sabre is Australia’s largest military exercise with the United States and is a demonstration of a strong alliance that is underpinned by deep levels of cooperation and trust built over decades of operating, training and exercising together.

“Everything we are doing is a rehearsal,” said McLennan. “Over the course of ten days, service members will be conducting a reconnaissance of training in Australia while building relationships with partnering nations. These activities are a demonstration of the U.S. and Australia’s combined commitment to a peaceful and prosperous Indo-Pacific; a demonstration that will resonate across the world.”

McLennan elaborated on the firsts for this iteration of Talisman Sabre.

“There’s all sorts of capabilities being employed for the first time. A great example is 15 tanks being brought over from South Korea to meet crews of U.S. 1st Armored Division based in Texas. It may sound easy, but it’s a big deal moving that kind of manpower and equipment into Australia.”

Jointly sponsored by U.S. Indo-Pacific Command and Australian Defence Force Headquarters Joint Operations Command, this iteration of Talisman Sabre incorporates the U.S. Army, U.S. Navy, U.S. Marine Corps, U.S. Air Force and Australian Defence Forces as well as government agencies from each country.

“It’s neat to be part of something this historic,” said McLennan. “The Australian Army hasn’t participated in something of this magnitude since 1918; fighting on the Western Front alongside the United States ending the First World War. It’s energizing to be involved in an enterprise enabling the best of our teams to reach their highest performing potential.”

In addition to the United States and Australia, participating nations include Canada, Fiji, France, Germany, Indonesia, Japan, Republic of Korea, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Tonga, and the United Kingdom.