SYDNEY, Australia -- The U.S. 7th Fleet flag ship USS Blue Ridge (LCC 19) is a little heavier this week as over 230 reserves, active duty and Australian augments board to take part in Talisman Saber 2013 (TS13) in Sydney, Australia, July 20, 2013.
Talisman Saber is a joint exercise sponsored by U.S. Pacific Command and Australian Defence Force (ADF) Headquarters Joint Operations Command that incorporates components of the U.S. Army, Navy, Marine Corps and Air Force, the Australian Defence Force and other government agencies from each country.
"This is an exciting opportunity to serve with the Australians," said Navy Capt. Kevin Hayes, commanding officer of the reserve unit supporting 7th Fleet. "Getting the opportunity to work hand in hand with the Australians is always a terrific opportunity because they're such a great partner of ours."
The Navy Reserve unit based out of Fort Worth, Texas, provides trained Sailors to augment the 7th Fleet staff in conjunction with any type of exercises and contingencies that the 7th Fleet supports in a given year, such as Operation Tomadachi in 2011.
The logistics and planning involved in getting the mass influx of TS13 support takes a great deal of coordinated efforts from all parties involved.
"The associated hurdles that goes along with orders for putting the service member in theater is complex," said Hayes. "Just in terms of making sure the arrival date coincides with the ships arrival date, if the ship is going to be in port when the service members arrive, and making sure that transportation is arranged."
Joining the fight are 104 Australian service members to practice their combined operation level of planning and execution, as well as certifying their major components of the exercise are fit for future operations.
"We've brought together members of the army, navy and air force from around Australia and in some cases from places from around the world to join the Blue Ridge," said Australian Brig. Gen. David Coghlan, TS13 deputy commander. "The intricacies of coming aboard a U.S. Navy command and control ship have been challenging, but really useful and worthwhile."
Talisman Saber is a realistic and challenging exercise that improves both nations' ability to work bilaterally and multilaterally, and prepares them to be poised to provide security regionally and globally.
"It's an absolute pleasure to work with the United States forces," said Coghlan. "The level of integration with the U.S. is unprecedented and we appreciate it."
TS13, which includes more than 27,000 U.S. and Australian personnel, is a biennial training activity aimed at improving ADF and U.S. combat readiness and interoperability as a Combined Joint Task Force. The exercise is designed to enhance multilateral collaboration in support of future combined operations, humanitarian emergencies and natural disasters. This exercise is a major undertaking and illustrates the closeness of the Australian and U.S. alliance and the strength of the military-to-military relationship.