US Marines, Navy Join Forces In Novel Ways During Australia Exercise


By David Vergun

About 18 months ago, U.S. Navy Command Expeditionary Strike Group 7, which consists of amphibious assault ships with aircraft and landing craft, merged with U.S. Marine Corps units from the III Marine Expeditionary Brigade, thereby creating Task Force 76/3. 

“The goal was better interoperability, particularly if the sailors and Marines worked as a team every day instead of just coming together for an exercise and then going our separate ways,” said U.S. Navy Rear Adm. Christopher Stone, commander of Task Force 76/3. He added that it’s a first and is still being evaluated. 

He spoke Monday from the amphibious assault ship USS America, the lead ship, along with the amphibious transport dock ships USS Green Bay and USS New Orleans in the Coral Sea. All were participating in Exercise Talisman Sabre 23. 

This year marks the 10th iteration of Talisman Sabre, a biennial exercise designed to advance a free and open Indo-Pacific by strengthening partnerships and interoperability among key allies. The spelling of the name — sabre vs. saber — reflects which country is leading the exercise: Talisman Sabre when Australia leads and Talisman Saber when the U.S. leads.   

Over 30,000 personnel and 13 nations from Japan to Germany are participating in this year’s full exercise. This year is the largest Talisman Sabre since the exercises began in 2005. This speaks to the strength of allies and partners in the Indo-Pacific Region, Stone said. 

A detachment of German naval infantry from the German coastal operations sea battalion is operating with the USS America amphibious strike group, along with Japanese Maritime Self-Defense Force, which have their own amphibious vessels with capabilities similar to the USS America.  

“We come together to practice our skills across all domains, including everything from missions like humanitarian assistance and disaster relief to high-end major combat operations and everything in between,” said Stone. “It’s an opportunity for us to practice and refine combat and life-saving skills and learn things from each other.” 

U.S. Marine Corps Col. Matthew C. Danner, commander of the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit, leads the Marines who will be conducting a major amphibious assault in Queensland, Australia, in two days, along with allies and partner nations. 

“Our purpose is to provide a broad range of crisis response capabilities from sea-basing across the Indo-Pacific. Talisman Sabre represents a magnificent opportunity to work with strong regional partners and the Australian Defence Force, in particular,” he said.  

“A major part of the exercise isn’t just the shooting aspect,” Danner said. “It’s sustainment, meaning logistical support to the fighters to get them what they need when they need it despite being thousands of miles from main supply bases and operating in austere environments.”

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