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Australia, U.S., allies strengthen ties during Talisman Sabre as Chinese spy ships look on

Australia, U.S., allies strengthen ties during Talisman Sabre as Chinese spy ships look on


Led by the Australian Defence Force (ADF), exercise Talisman Sabre 21 offered the Pacific nation a chance to deepen its alliance with the United States through the largest military exercise conducted between them.

“Talisman Sabre demonstrates that American and Australian militaries can quickly join forces and execute highly complex, multidomain operations in a demanding environment,” Maj. Gen. Jake Ellwood, commander of ADF’s Deployable Joint Force Headquarters, said in an ADF news release. “Overall, these exercises provide an outstanding opportunity to develop broader interoperability with friends, partners and allies within the region and further afield.”

This year’s iteration, kicked off in July 2021, also provided opportunities for forces from Canada, Japan, New Zealand, South Korea and the United Kingdom to conduct amphibious landings and broader strategic training. The multinational drills involved high-end land combat exercises against an enemy force — all while at least two People’s Liberation Army Navy spy ships reportedly looked on from nearby waters.

“We are alert and alarmed,” Ellwood told the Australian Broadcasting Corp., adding that the drills continued despite China’s watchful eye. “The way we operate makes sure that we are always secure.”

Watching and knowing that you’re being watched go hand in hand where defense is concerned, according to military experts. Most forces recognize these types of tactics are part of the “new normal,” James Goldrick, an Australian National University professor and retired Royal Australian Navy rear admiral, told News Corp.

Part of Talisman Sabre’s objective is to demonstrate the capabilities of countries that support a Free and Open Indo-Pacific to defend Pacific island nations from potential invasion and aggressive behavior by the People’s Republic of China, the India-based Daijiworld website reported.

“China obviously has strategic concerns,” Goldrick said, noting how substantially strategic Talisman Sabre is because of the countries involved. “I would think they’d want to listen and watch as much as they can.”

Partner nations participating in Talisman Sabre showed their combined strength in responding to crises, and in operating in and sustaining each other’s components in a contested maritime environment, according to U.S. Indo-Pacific Command’s Pacific Fleet (PACFLT).

“Emerging events in the Indo-Pacific region underscore the importance of presence to ensure a rules-based international maritime order,” said U.S. Navy Rear Adm. Chris Engdahl, commander of Expeditionary Strike Group 7, according to PACFLT. “Talisman Sabre 21 allows the U.S., alongside partners and allies, to further enhance our ability to respond to any contingency as part of a joint or combined effort in support of a Free and Open Indo-Pacific region.”

The Australia-U.S. alliance dates back more than 100 years. Talisman Sabre has taken place biennially since 2005. (Pictured: A United States Marine and a Royal Australian Artillery officer watch the U.S. Marine Corps M142 High Mobility Artillery Rocket System live-fire demonstration at Shoalwater Bay Training Area in Queensland, Australia, during Talisman Sabre 2021.)

“Credible, ready forces help preserve peace and prevent conflict,” U.S. Navy Capt. Greg Baker, commodore with Amphibious Squadron 11, said, according to PACFLT. “Exercises like Talisman Sabre provide effective and intense training to ensure our forces are capable, interoperable and deployable on short notice.”