Talisman Saber begins with at-sea ceremony aboard USS Bonhomme Richard
SYDNEY, Australia - Senior leaders of the United States and Australia unfurled the Talisman Saber 2017 ceremonial flag in an at-sea ceremony aboard the USS Bonhomme Richard (LHD 6) off the coast of Sydney, June 29.
This is the 7th iteration of Exercise Talisman Saber, which is a biennial exercise that unites more than 33,000 U.S. and Australian personnel to build on partnerships, interoperability and the ability to respond to contingencies in the region.
"The U.S. Pacific Command is proud to partner w/our Australian allies to train for high-end war fighting scenarios during Talisman Saber," said Adm. Harry Harris, commander, U.S. Pacific Command, the senior U.S. military representative at the ceremony. "This incredible bond between our countries is as important to our future as it has been to our storied past. This alliance has strengthened peace and prosperity -- not only in the Indo-Asia-Pacific, but across the globe."
Sailors of the Bonhomme Richard and the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit stood in formation as senior leaders recognized the importance of training and the U.S.-Australian alliance.
"This realistic and challenging exercise provides endless opportunities for our nations' to innovatively prepare for regional and global security challenges ... Forge relationships that you can call on during crises, because we're in this together," said Harris.
Harris was joined by The Honorable Paul Fletcher, Australia minister for Urban Infrastructure, the Honorable James Carouso, U.S. Charge d' Affaires to Australia, and Royal Australian navy Vice Adm. David Johnston, Australian Defense Force Chief of Joint Operations.
Australian leaders echoed Harris' remarks, emphasizing the importance of training together to ensure both forces could meet any type of challenge.
"Seventy-five years ago U.S. and Australian forces stood together in the Battle of Coral Sea and Talisman Saber is an exercise that continues what was started then, bringing us forward in a way that has much relevance to us all," said Johnston. "This exercise important because it brings old friends together, gives us a chance to work side-by-side, and offers a chance to make new friendships."
Johnston concluded the ceremony with a message for all participants: "Make it a professionally rewarding experience, learn from the opportunity and keep yourselves safe." After the ceremony Bonhomme Richard and the more than 2,000 Sailors and Marines arrived to Sydney for a port visit ahead of the exercise.
For Talisman Saber 2017, Bonhomme Richard, flagship of a Taslisman Saber combined expeditionary strike group (ESG), will operate side-by-side with Australian Flagship and amphibious assault unit HMAS Canberra. A Royal Australian Navy staff will embark Bonhomme Richard to perform duties as Sea Combat Commander, to manage the maneuvers and coordinate the subsurface and surface defense of the ESG. Adelaide-class guided-missile frigate HMAS Darwin will be in charge of the air defense of the ESG while partnered with USS John S. McCain (DDG 56).
The Bonhomme Richard ESG includes USS Bonhomme Richard (LHD 6), USS Green Bay (LPD 20), USS Ashland (LSD 48), Naval Beach Unit 7, Sea Helicopter Combat Squadron (HSC) 25, Tactical Squadron (TACRON) 12 and the embarked 31st MEU. MEU personnel include nearly 2,300 Marines from Battalion Landing Team, 3rd Battalion, 5th Marines, Combat Logistics Battalion 31, Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron (VMM) 265 (Reinforced) and Marine Attack Squadron 311.