Home' Asia Pacific Defence Reporter : APDR Sept 2011 Contents A column that includes Bushmaster PMVs produces
clouds of dust as it moves through the large SWBTA
in central Queensland. (Gordon Arthur)
30 | Asia Pacific Defence Reporter
“Joining the fray” in exercise
Talisman Sabre 2011
Major Leigh Perkins, commander of Charlie Company, conducted his morning briefing that outlined the scheme of operations for an upcoming attack.
A three-dimensional terrain map had been created on the ground, and his platoon leaders were gathered around to hear how the impending assault
was to proceed that afternoon and on through the night. Their dust-caked faces were daubed in camouflage cream, and although they had been sleep-
deprived for several days because of ongoing operations against the enemy, they listened with careful attention.
The first objective was a pair of features overlooking an inhabited town suspected of harbouring a large number of armed insurgents. The operation
was complex, with numerous obstacles, minefields and enemy positions to overcome along Route Steel, but combat engineers, tanks, artillery, mortars,
a US Army PSYOP (Psychological Operations) team, military police, armed Tiger helicopters and F/A-18Fs were to be fully utilised. Once the features
had been secured, the operation to clear the town scheduled for 0800 hours the next morning could commence. By that time, a field hospital being
set up further back near the Brigade Maintenance Area (BMA) should be ready to receive casualties and to handle internally displaced persons (IDP).
MAJ Perkins of 8/9th Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment (8/9 RAR), finished his thorough briefing with the exhortation, “Crack on, men.” The
orders group over, his men moved away to their respective platoons and attached elements to make the necessary arrangements, and the map tableau
on the ground was kicked into the dust so it would not give any clues to enemy reconnaissance...
The above was just one event being played
out at the Shoalwater Bay Training Area
(SWBTA) northeast of Rockhampton in central
Queensland. Simultaneously, throughout this
vast training area and much further afield, plans
were being formed and implemented by the
coalition force that consisted of Australian and
US air, ground and naval forces. This was the
Australian Defence Force’s (ADF) largest training
activity of the year, Exercise Talisman Sabre 2011
(TS11). Incidentally, it was immediately followed
by Exercise Hamel, which witnessed live-firing
of personal weapons, Javelin missiles, vehicle
weapon systems, artillery, tanks and helicopters.
Held from 11-29 July in various Queensland
and Northern Territory locations, TS11 involved
22,500 servicemen and servicewomen, of
which 14,000 were American. At one point
it was uncertain whether the exercise would
even proceed because of ground conditions
at the SWBTA. Queensland’s devastating floods
had produced a high water table. However, the
exercise did go ahead, and Asia-Pacific Defence
Reporter spent nearly a fortnight embedded
with Australian units to experience firsthand
the level of training undergone by modern-day
servicemen and women.
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