• Credit: Defence
    Credit: Defence

Australia’s largest bilateral exercise with the US, Exercise Talisman Sabre, has officially commenced for 2021 as a Chinese spy ship watches on.

Commander of the Australian Defence Force’s Deployable Joint Force Headquarters, Major General Jake Ellwood said the high-end war fighting exercise was designed to enhance the interoperability between the ADF and the US Armed Forces.

“Exercise Talisman Sabre reflects the strength of the Australia-US Alliance and the close and enduring nature of our military-to-military relationship,” Major General Ellwood said. “This year’s exercise will involve more than 17,000 personnel from Australia and the United States.”

In addition to the United States, forces from Canada, Japan, New Zealand, the Republic of Korea and the United Kingdom will participate in Talisman Sabre 2021, and Australia-based personnel from India, Indonesia, France and Germany will observe the exercise.

A Chinese spy ship has also returned to watch the exercise, as occured during the 2017 and 2019 iterations.

A majority of the participating international forces will participate exclusively offshore, including around 5,000 who will participate as part of a US Navy Expeditionary Strike Group, in a contactless component to the exercise.

“Talisman Sabre 2021 is a major undertaking for all participants and demonstrates our capacity to achieve large-scale operational outcomes, while also dealing with a global pandemic,” Major General Ellwood said.

Brigadier General Eric Strong, Deputy Commanding General Officer of support of 4th Infantry Division and Fort Carson, Colorado said Talisman Sabre showcased the closeness of the Australian and US alliance and the strength of the Joint Force.

Major General Ellwood said this year’s exercise was essential to maintaining high-levels of interoperability between US and Australian forces.

“Talisman Sabre demonstrates that United States and Australian militaries can quickly join forces and execute highly complex, multi-domain operations in a challenging environment,” Major General Ellwood said.

“Talisman Sabre 2021 would not be possible without the generous cooperation of the community, including landowners, local governments, and traditional owners. We are grateful for their ongoing support.”

The majority of activities will take place on Defence bases, as well as a range of training areas across central and northeast Queensland and off the east coast of Australia.

All international military participants taking part in the exercise onshore have undertaken the mandatory 14 days quarantine.

Exercise Talisman Sabre 2021 is the ninth iteration of the exercise and incorporates force preparation activities, amphibious landings, ground force manoeuvre, urban operations, and air combat and maritime operations.

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