This year’s Exercise Talisman Sabre started off with a bang, as US Marine Corps and US Army High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems (HiMARS) demonstrated the firepower they could bring to bear.
The exercise, held on July 8, displayed not only the rapid-deployment capability of the systems, which were deployed by US Air Force and US Marine Corps MC-130s, but also how they integrated with Royal Australian Air Force P-8A Poseidon and E-7A Wedgetail aircraft.
It was also the first time Australian personnel had commanded the HiMARS systems.
Commander Forces Command Major General Christopher Field said the exercise was an impressive display of the capability of Australian and US military’s ability to work together.
“As we like to say, we’re combined and joint by nature, but partnered by choice and this was a great opportunity to show the interoperability between our two nations, both in the air and on land,” he said.
“Joint and combined fighting is essential to our two militaries and it’s always wonderful to get out and see soldiers executing their profession.”
The attack was also supported by two US Army AH-64E Apache helicopters, as well as Australian Army S-100 and Royal Australian Navy Scan Eagle unmanned aerial systems.
Australian soldier Corporal Thomas Rowe, of 16th Regiment, Royal Australian Artillery, said the live-fire exercise was the prelude to an integration with the US Army and Marine Corps he hadn’t previously experienced in his career.
“This was the first time we’d worked with the HiMARS and I’ve never seen a live-fire of that magnitude before,” he said.
“I was really excited to see all of them fire at the same time and it didn’t disappoint.”
Working with the Australians was a “great experience” for US marine Staff Sergeant Juan Cantu.
“This is the first time we’ve integrated the HiMARS with the Australian military, but even though we’ve been writing the book as we go, it has worked really well,” he said.
“We’ve built really good relations with the Australians which has helped smooth the process.
“I look forward to working with them in the future.”
After learning about the HiMARS system, Royal Australian Air Force Flight Lieutenant Alysha Dunn said watching the live-fire put it all into perspective.
“Because the 1st Brigade tactical aircraft control party has an existing relationship with the Marine Rotational Force – Darwin and a lot of our control doctrine is based on the Marine Corps, it’s been really easy to work with them,” she said.
“We’ve spent a lot of time training with simulated HiMARS systems, so it was awesome to actually see them fire – it really put our training into perspective.”
Exercise Talisman Sabre is the Australian Defence Force’s largest exercise, involving up to 34,000 sailors, soldiers and airmen from Australia, the US, UK, Canada, New Zealand and Japan.