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    Spartan Paratroopers jump across the equator, into Talisman Saber

    Spartan paratroopers jump across the equator, into Talisman Saber

    Photo By Sgt. 1st Class Jeffrey Smith | U.S. Soldiers assigned to the 4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry...... read more read more

    QUEENSLAND, Australia - Four hundred Spartan Paratroopers traveled 15 hours non-stop from Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson to jump into Australia’s Shoalwater Bay Training Area, in Queensland on July 20, 2013. The airborne operation was one of this year’s highlights in the biennial joint-combined exercise Talisman Saber.

    Deep in the outback of Australia, far across adjoining seas, and high above in the Australian air, Paratroopers from the United States and Australia teamed together for a large combined military effort with many moving parts.

    Talisman Saber tests interoperability between the U.S. and Australia in crisis planning and execution for contingency operations and humanitarian assistance missions. Several military branches from both countries participated in the event to validate their combined efforts including the Army, Navy, Air Force, and Marines.

    The 4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team (Airborne), 25th Infantry Division was the only U.S. Army Airborne Infantry unit, that was chosen to reach the continent of Australia and the training ground at Shoalwater Bay Training Area in Queensland, Australia to demonstrate the forced entry capability of the U.S. airborne force. Once on the ground, Task Force Spartan was immersed in a fictional military scenario with a mission to liberate the people of a nation which had been invaded by a hostile actor in the region. The scenario tested the Paratroopers, staffs, and civilians of the Spartans and their partners in the 3rd Australian Brigade.
    The mission was to conduct a forced entry airborne assault into defended enemy territory, expand the lodgment, and provide freedom of movement for the Australian Army’s 3rd Brigade.
    The 4-25th used the training opportunity to validate its mission set, which is built around the fundamentals of airborne infantry tactics and procedures. One of the highlights of the training objectives was to conduct real time, in-flight communication and mission command throughout the flight from take-off at JBER to the time the Paratroopers exited the aircraft. In flight
    communications allowed joint and allied elements to work closely together for follow on operations. Members of the Joint Communication Support Element from MacDill Air Force Base, led by Sgt. 1st Class Brian Knight, provided an en-route mission command package custom built for the Spartan brigade’s mission in Talisman Saber. It provided real-time secure and non-secure communications between the aircraft, JBER, and the Combined Forces Land Component Command in Brisbane, Australia.

    Immediately upon arriving on the drop zone, Task Force Spartan assembled teams from the 1st Battalion, 501st Infantry Regiment for follow on missions to seize known objectives while allowing Australian Forces secured access to the area for coinciding assaults.

    The 4-25’s commanding officer, Col. Matthew McFarlane, commends Talisman Saber as an excellent source of training to provide broad scope planning and execution across several military branches and between the two nations.

    “This is a great opportunity to exercise our close relationship with the Australians and a great opportunity to improve the readiness of the Spartan Brigade as we are able to demonstrate the strategic reach of our airborne brigade combat team along with the Air Force platform at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson…It was a phenomenal Airborne assault!,” said McFarlane.

    A common thread among U.S. and Australian forces was the training provides a chance to learn from each other’s capabilities, and resources.

    “Everyone here is learning,” said McFarlane. “Through events like this, we get to touch, feel, and see all of the different capabilities that joint units from our Department of Defense has and the different combined elements from our allied armies. It really allows us to make sure we are as efficient and effective as we can be as we do contingency operations and combined joint exercises like this one.”

    “The best part is everybody is doing the same thing, learning about each other and figuring out how we, as a combined team, can best execute the mission with what we have available,” said McFarlane.

    U.S. Army Spc. Terrance Smith, from Binghamton, N.Y., a healthcare specialist with the 4-25 IBCT, said “I like cross training with the Australian Army because a lot of their devices and equipment are different than ours, so we can get familiarized with more equipment, and see how their operations work compared to ours.”

    Australian Army Lt. Col. Peter Nasveld, a medical officer with the Shock Trauma Team, 2nd General Health Battalion expanded on Smith’s words.

    “They (American Army) are good operators. They love sharing information. They ask lots of nice questions. We ask lots of nice questions. It’s a good sharing relationship. We are always talking about the different ways we do business…It’s what being part of an alliance is all about,” Nasveld said.

    The operational schedule was full, and events happened fast at Talisman Saber, but there were times before and after movements that troops from both nations had the chance to share knowledge, and build upon the already strong alliance between their homelands.
    Australian Army Cpl. Chad Neiha an infantry section commander with the 6th Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment, said “I love working with U.S. soldiers. I’ve worked with a lot of U.S. soldiers based in Iraq and Afghanistan. I am very familiar with training with you guys, and I love it.”

    Training and learning from each other is the biggest goal, but soldiers in both Armies like to laugh and joke around with each other. The Australians particularly like to tell tall tales.

    “Every time we get to stop and chit-chat with them (the Australians), and swap stories, they always try to mess with us about Drop Bears and Hoop Snakes,” said Spc. Brett Heil with Blackfoot Company,1st-501st.

    Drop Bears are the Australian version of Bigfoot, and Hoop Snakes apparently form a circle by biting their tail and rolling down hills after their victims.

    All kidding aside, Service Members from both nations worked extremely hard in the austere environment at the Shoalwater Bay Training Area during Talisman Saber 2013, one of the largest combined exercises in the world.

    Partnership was the key to the brigade’s success in the scenario. Australian Army Capt. Rob Watchhorn and Jennifer Jackett, from the Australian Department of Defence, became a part of the 1-501 and 4-25 staffs in the austere field headquarters. Their knowledge of the area, Australian military operating procedures, and culture were invaluable to the Spartan team. Jackett said that integrating Defence officials, like herself, provides an excellent opportunity to learn how to provide guidance to military officials on matters pertaining to civil challenges faced on the battlefield.

    McFarlane summed up the combined training in a few words.

    “This is a culmination of months of combined and joint planning that made for a really great airborne operation! ...We all got better working together by understanding the different dynamics of everyone’s mission set, different terminologies, and different Standard Operating Procedures.”



    Date Taken: 07.29.2013
    Date Posted: 07.29.2013 09:38
    Story ID: 110979
    Location: SHOALWATER BAY, QLD, AU 

    Web Views: 1,184
    Downloads: 2