PHILIPPINE SEA – Australian Army officers from the Australian Defense Force came aboard the forward-deployed amphibious assault ship Bonhomme Richard (LHD 6), Sept.10, to observe the amphibious capabilities used by the Bonhomme Richard Amphibious Ready Group (ARG) and the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit (31st MEU) during a certification exercise (CERTEX).
The Australians are participating in a program called Anchor Sun 12 which is a bi-lateral observer exchange between Australia Defense Force (ADF) and the United States Marine Corps.
The objective is to exchange views, techniques and procedures between the respective operating forces and training institutions for small unit and amphibious operations. The ADF is primarily looking to observe, review and examine amphibious doctrine used by the U.S. Navy and Marine Corps to develop ADF amphibious doctrine.
“We are interested in how the Unites States conducts certification for their Marine expeditionary units so that we can get a similar construct for certifying for our amphibious forces,” said Australian Army Lt Col. Michael Bassingthwaighte. “The U.S. Navy and U.S. Marine Corps relationship seems really strong during this exercise and Australia wants to try and develop the same sort of relationship between our Army and Navy.”
During the certification exercise, members of ADF were able to visually see firsthand operations that included small boat operations, helicopter and amphibious operations, mass casualty response drills and a non-combatant evacuation operation.
“As Australia enhances its amphibious capabilities, we are sort of ramping up the amount of ready forces available for amphibious operations,” said Bassingthwaighte.
The Australian Army visitors also spent time observing how the 31st MEU staff developed their planning processes and learned how the 31st MEU integrated with the Amphibious Squadron (PHIBRON) 11 staff while aboard the ship.
“You guys put different mechanisms in place to make that help make the relationship go as smooth as possible,” said Bassingthwaighte “The tighter the relationship between force elements that are working together, the more efficient they become.”
One of U.S. Pacific Fleet’s top priorities is to advance regional partnerships with allies through maritime security operations, training and other engagements. The U.S. Navy and Royal Australian Navy already have a long established bilateral partnership, which is an essential part of maritime security in the Asia-Pacific region.
“We have been very well supported and been able to talk with anyone we needed to talk aboard Bonhomme Richard.
The U.S. and Australia train and work together in a variety of exercises and missions throughout the year including Pacific Partnership, which is the largest humanitarian and civic assistance mission in the Asia-Pacific.
Bonhomme Richard, commanded by Capt. Daniel Dusek, is the lead ship of the only forward-deployed amphibious ready group and is currently operating in the 7th Fleet of Operations.