Exercise Talisman Sabre - New Zealand Light Armoured Vehicles working as part of the Australian Army’s 7 Brigade in the Shoalwater Bay Training Area.
21 July 2015
It was only a mock conflict but senior military officials from the Australian Defence Force (ADF) said they were honoured to ‘fight’ alongside their New Zealand peers during warfighting Exercise Talisman Sabre 2015.
“In the centenary of the ANZAC landings at Gallipoli, it is a poignant reminder that New Zealand and Australia share a common bond in adversity through war. As it was 100 years ago, it is an honour and privilege to serve and fight alongside the New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF),” said Australian Army Lieutenant Colonel (LTCOL) Dean Thompson, Commanding Officer of Battle Group Griffin.
Talisman Sabre, which has just finished, involved almost 30,000 troops from Australia, the United States, New Zealand and Japan, 21 surface ships including the US Navy aircraft carrier USS George Washington, more than 200 aircraft and three submarines.
Participating forces faced a peer adversary that tested the ability of the different militaries to work together at sea, in the air and ashore.
“The exercise provided relevant and effective training to further hone our people’s warfighting capabilities and their ability to respond to a wide variety of situations,” said Colonel Glenn King, Senior National Officer of the NZDF contingent to the exercise.
The Royal New Zealand Air Force’s NH90 helicopters, which were deployed offshore for the first time, were embedded within the ADF’s 16 Aviation Brigade. They operated with six Australian MRH-90 and eight ARH Tiger helicopters, and the 600 US troops that served as the ground force for Battle Group Griffin.
Royal New Zealand Navy frigate HMNZS Te Kaha engaged in maritime warfare off Darwin in Northern Australia as part of the Opposing Force, while the tanker HMNZS Endeavour worked with the support task force for the maritime warfare part of the exercise.
Around 200 combat soldiers from the New Zealand Scots Squadron, Queen Alexandra’s Mounted Rifles, operated as part of the ADF’s 7 Brigade and an RNZAF C-130 Hercules aircraft operated alongside the Royal Australian Air Force’s 37 Squadron.
Te Kaha’s Commanding Officer, Commander Simon Griffiths, said operating in this environment is exactly what Te Kaha is designed to do.
“The exercise has been a great chance for us to practise our core warfighting capabilities and to improve our interoperability with our coalition partners,” he said.
Wing Commander Scott McKenzie, Commanding Officer of the RNZAF’s 3 Squadron, said the exercise gave his team the opportunity to demonstrate its battlefield support capability.
“We were also able to confirm our operating procedures in challenging and remote locations and test successfully our ability to operate in a coalition with our allies,” he said.
The ADF lauded the NZDF personnel who took part in Talisman Sabre for their “dedication, skill and willingness to fully integrate”.
“The RNZAF’s 3 Squadron has a long and proud history in air mobile helicopter operations and they brought a wealth of experience, not to mention character, to the Battle Group,” LTCOL Thompson said.
“Having 3 Squadron in the Battle Group was also a reminder of the tradition of mateship and trust that exists between the ADF and the NZDF.”
Australian Army Brigadier Robert Brown said that Talisman Sabre was a great opportunity for both Australia and New Zealand to train as an Anzac team with their American colleagues.
“We rarely have the opportunity to operate as part of a large Combined Task Force, which comes from the CTF based on the US Seventh Fleet. This gave us access to a range of high-end capabilities that only the US military can bring to bear,” he said.
“It is important that the Kiwis can play their part because the reality is that we frequently work together, as we do today in the Middle East.”
The NZDF deployed a total of 620 personnel, two ships, four aircraft including two NH90 helicopters, 22 Light Armoured Vehicles and 23 other military vehicles as it took part fully for the first time in the biennial exercise.
Link to NZDF Talisman Sabre video: https://youtu.be/HRtajkZp6L0