Sabre ‘ keystone’ proves our worth
TOWNSVILLE’S 3rd Brigade is proving itself to be shipshape as their amphibious elements join coalition forces on land and at sea to prove their deployment capabilities as part of Exercise Talisman Sabre.
The Townsville Bulletin visited the amphibious assault ship USS Bonhomme Richard ( LHD 6) yesterday via an MV22 Osprey, a combined helicopter and plane medium lift support aircraft.
The ship- embarked Marines of the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit have been working shoulder to shoulder with Australian counterparts including Townsville’s 3rd Brigade to conduct a series of landings ashore and conduct high- end warfighting scenarios in the maritime domain.
The 257m- long Bonhomme Richard is the flagship of a combined Expeditionary Strike Group, consisting of 11 Australian, New Zealand, and US amphibious ships and escorts.
The ship can carry 1800 personnel, comparable to the HMAS Canberra, and has extensive amenities including a full medical hospital capable of carrying up to 400 patients in a mass casualty or humanitarian situation.
1st Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment’s Captain Brenton Realph, 3rd Brigade’s only appointed liaison officer to the 31st MEU, said from working on the Bonhomme Richard he had found the similarities between the coalition forces far outweighed any differences. “We’ve done a lot of work with the Americans and New Zealanders … and it’s good to see just how compatible the two forces are,” he said.
“My job has been to make sure that has been as seamless as possible and it really hasn’t been an issue at all.”
Capt Realph said Talisman Sabre represented the “keystone exercise” for the Australian Army, particular for the Ready Battalion Group ( 1RAR), which officially went online as of July 1. “It’s where we prove how our training has worked,” he said.
“From what I have seen of 1RAR, that has well and truly been the case where we’re going to come out of this exercise having demonstrated that all the lead up work we’ve done has paid off and we’re ready to assume the role as the Ready Battalion Group.”
MV22 pilot Captain Charles Randolph said he had been working in the air over the past few days to support 3rd Brigade on the ground and with pre- mission planning sessions.
“Everything we have been doing with the Australians has been very professional. They are highly knowledgeable and very good at what they do.”
Maritime Component Commander Commodore Mal Wise said the Royal Australian Navy had a clear plan from when it purchased its flagship vessels that this Talisman Sabre would be the true test of the Army’s Townsvillebased amphibious arm, and results had exceeded expectations.