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Joint US-Australia exercise Talisman Sabre concludes

written by Adam Thorn | August 2, 2021

A FA-18F Super Hornet from No. 1 Squadron lands, utilising the Mobile Aircraft Arrestor System at RAAF Base Scherger, during Exercise Talisman Sabre 2021. (Defence/CPL Brett Sherriff)

Australia’s largest bilateral defence exercise with the US, Talisman Sabre, came to an end on Sunday.

The three-week training program, held across Queensland, the NT and Evans Head in NSW, involved RAAF Classic and Super Hornets, F-35s, Globemasters and P-8A Poseidons.

Attendance at the closing ceremony at Kissing Point in Townsville included federal member for Herbert Phillip Thompson OAM, and Doug Sonnek, US acting Charge D’Affairs.

Commander Deployable Joint Force Headquarters, Major General Jake Ellwood, said, “Australia and the United States came together with the UK, Canada, New Zealand, Japan and Republic of Korea to challenge ourselves at sea, on land, in air, and across the information/cyber and space domains.

“This was a very complex series of training events and I am just so impressed by what our collective forces have achieved.”

Land component commander, US Brigadier General Eric Strong, described Australians as one of his country’s key allies.

“It’s a significant commitment to be away from home and family, but when I look at the lasting impacts of our efforts: increased readiness, stronger bonds with allies and partners and a more secure region – I know it’s worth it,” he said.


This year’s event involved 17,000 personnel from other nations alongside Australia-based personnel from India, Indonesia, France and Germany.

All international military participants taking part in the exercise onshore undertook the mandatory 14 days’ quarantine.

It coincided with the 70th anniversary of the signing of the ANZUS Treaty and the 10th anniversary of the announcement of the US Force Posture Initiatives.


Defence described some of the highlights of the exercise as including:

  • Australia welcomed the Republic of Korea as a participating nation for the first time. Their destroyer, ROKS Wang Geon, contributed to a maritime warfare scenario involving around 20 ships and 60 aircraft;
  • The US MIM-104 Patriot surface to air missile was fired for the first time on Australian soil;
  • Amphibious forces from Australia, the US, Japan and the UK operated from the same ship (HMAS Canberra) for the first time as an integrated landing force; and
  • US Space Command deployed to Australia for Exercise Talisman Sabre for the first time. This team exercised important new capabilities in the space domain.

“This vital training would not have been possible without the support of Indigenous and local communities, councils, landowners and governments,” MAJGEN Ellwood said.

“We thank you for your patience and goodwill. Realistic training makes us a stronger defence force and a safer nation.”

Last week, how more than 100 US Spartan Paratroopers jumped out of an RAAF C-17A Globemaster III over the skies of Charters Towers, Queensland, as part of the ongoing Exercise Talisman Sabre.

The Paratroopers – known as the Spartan Brigade – are based in Alaska from the 4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team (Airborne), 25th Infantry Division.

Once on the ground, the Paratroopers were airlifted by an Australian CH-47 Chinook helicopter to the Townsville Field Training Area where they joined soldiers from the 3rd Brigade to assault enemy forces as part of a fictional training scenario.

Colonel Michael ‘Jody’ Shouse, Spartan Brigade Commander, added the parachute drop was a key activity for TS21, demonstrating how Australia and the US can operate together to execute complex manoeuvres.

“Executing airborne operations thousands of miles from our home station alongside our allies and partners such as the Australian Defence Force is the strength of our organisation,” he said.

“Exercises like Talisman Sabre really show the capability of our Paratroopers.”

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