ROCKHAMPTON, Queensland (July 11, 2011) Combined service members from Australia and the U.S. review safety procedures at the beginning of exercise Talisman Sabre 2011. (U.S. photo by Navy Petty Officer Thomas E. Coffman)

SHOALWATER BAY TRAINING AREA, Australia (July 28, 2011) - Nearly 22,000 U.S. and Australian troops trained together during Talisman Sabre 2011 at Shoalwater Bay Training Area, Queensland, Australia, one of Australia’s largest training facilities from July 11 to 29.

Talisman Sabre 2011 is a biennial joint international training exercise aimed at improving and validating the Australian Defense Force and United States combat readiness as a combined joint task force. The exercise left participants with a better understanding of how each country operates and how they can benefit from their differences.

“Working so closely with [Australians] I’ve seen how they think, how they develop their courses of action, come up with their schemes and how they maneuver and implement their planning,” said Major Gary Bourland, Australian Headquarters Joint Operations Center Marine Corps liaison. “Learning this allows me to inject my own way of operating and share how we do it in the Marine Corps. It gives them a different flavor and tone.”

Throughout history, the Australian Defense Forces have fought and worked side by side with American troops in every major conflict since World War I and continue to show their dedication to common goals.

“They are wiling to dedicate so much per capita of their military,” said Bourland. “To lose soldiers and still have the dedication to stick by the U.S. is massive and still, time and time again, they continue to show their dedication to the U.S. That is why Australia is our strongest ally.”

The exercise called for both countries to conduct land, air and sea operations throughout the training areas, which showed the different ways each side accomplished the mission.

“[Talisman Sabre 2011] is a realistic and challenging exercise that brings us together with our Australian allies to improve our ability to work both bilaterally and multilaterally, and be poised to provide security for our citizens both regionally and globally,” said Vice Adm. Scott Van Buskirk, U.S. 7th Fleet and overall combined task force commander for Talisman Sabre 2011.

Because America and Australia fall under the South-East-Asia Treaty Organization, they are commited to providing mutual aid and protection in an event of external aggression. Exercises such as Talisman Sabre 2011 are vital in keeping the ability to work together alive.

Through joint training, both militaries are able to learn from one another’s experiences.

“They have a different philosophy for war and fight differently than us,” said Bourland.“We [U.S.] share tactics, techniques, procedures and implement them to their infantryman. When we do operations, they are a fresh set of eyeballs on routine situations that we do, which will add to our effectiveness during future operations.”

As the exercise comes to an end, both countries share their new experiences and mentalities.

“We have grown more familiar with each other,” said Buskirk. “I think maybe 10 years ago we didn’t integrate as well as we do now, but through our common operations in Afghanistan and Iraq, we have come closer and closer in the doctrines. So, you get to a point now you don’t see yourself as another country, you see yourself as a particular unit. We can take it to the next level now.”

For more Talisman Sabre news, visit the exercise website.