Sabre ‘ key­stone’ proves our worth

Townsville Bulletin - - NEWS - RACHEL RI­LEY

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.

HOVER­ING: AN MV22 Os­prey lands aboard the am­phibi­ous as­sault ship USS Aus­tralian Reg­i­ment’s Cap­tain Bren­ton Realph. dur­ing Ex­er­cise se Tal­is­man Sabre 2017.2017 IN­SET:IN­SET 1st1 Bat­tal­ion, Royal Pic­tures: WES­LEY MONTS

Bon­homme Richard

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