Talisman Saber and America’s Pacific Pivot
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Talisman Saber and America’s Pacific Pivot

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In the blue skies above the pristine waters of the Coral Sea, four Boeing F/A-18F Super Hornet fighter jets slide into formation off the left-hand quarter of the Airbus KC-30A tanker, circling at 26,000 ft (7,924 m) approximately 120 miles (192 km) northwest of the city of Brisbane, capital of the Australian state of Queensland. Taking turns refueling off an aircraft type more commonly used as an airliner, the Super Hornets take on 5,000 lbs (2,268 kg) of aviation fuel each by flying a retractable probe into a basket at the end of a hose trailing from a cylindrical pod hanging off the tanker’s wings. It is an extremely delicate aerial ballet conducted at a few hundred miles per hour which is surprisingly quick to complete. A mere 20 minutes elapses between the first sighting of the fighter jets from on board the tanker to the last one breaking formation with the tanker having taken on the requisite amount of fuel.

The jets, all belonging to the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) and flying from RAAF base Amberley, located approximately 30 miles (48 km) southwest of Brisbane, are taking part in Exercise Talisman Saber 2013, a biennial combined exercise between the armed forces of Australia and the United States, held mainly on Australia’s mainland and surrounding waters/airspace between July 15 and August 5. The primary objective of the exercise is to improve interoperability between the armed services of both countries. After the midair top up, the Super Hornets head north to the vast Shoalwater Bay training area in Central Queensland to support Australian ground troops and American Marines carrying out maneuvers below. 

This year’s exercise, the fifth since the series began in 2005, is the largest Talisman Saber to have been held to date, with the United States alone contributing approximately 20,000 personnel participating in the exercise. A wide variety of personnel and equipment, drawn from disparate units from all over the U.S. military’s various Pacific bases and the United States proper, are involved in the exercise. At sea, these included a three-ship Expeditionary Strike Group (ESG) centered on the USS Bonhomme Richard, an amphibious assault ship carrying the first squadron of US Marine Corps Boeing MV-22B Osprey tiltrotor aircraft to be based in the Asia-Pacific region, as well as the Japan-based nuclear powered aircraft carrier USS George Washington, along with her air wing and escorts.

On land, Australian forces trained alongside their U.S. Army and Marine counterparts in various combat scenarios ranging from Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief (HADR) to Special Operations. The Marines were mainly drawn from the Okinawa-based 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) and the (currently) small detachment in Darwin, while an Alaska-based airborne battalion from the U.S Army’s 4th Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division staged a dramatic entrance into the exercise, parachuting into Shoalwater Bay Training Area after a 6,500 mile (10,461 km) flight on six U.S. Air Force C-17 Globemaster III strategic airlifters in a demonstration of the U.S. Army’s ability to deploy globally.

Comments
27
JohnX
August 22, 2013 at 22:11

@TomF,

You may be Chinese ethnicity I dont know, but your comments do show an ignorance about humanity.

"BTW, I concur regarding the anti-Chinese net that was so pervasive throughout recent western history, this is the personal burden referred to above. In Arrowtown (an old gold mining town in Southern New Zealand), they've restored and preserved most of the old Chinese makeshift dwellings built along a river bed. The stories of the cold winters for the young men from tropical climes, the location of the shanties sitting below the fine town homes, convents, and Masonic temples makes for a heartfelt experience of injustice against Chinese people, though I don't think contemporary Chinese enclaves is a direct result of past injustices. "

 

Firstly, you do know that the Chinese went to NZ to work right? They were mostly male, left thier families in China and went there for a job not a lifestyle. Its not much different than today in some ways.

 

Secondly, Arrowtown was a 'Gold Mining' town and where do you locate the best gold? Right next to the river, so its more than likely that the Chinese of that generation did the same thing that the Chinese of this generation do. They head to where the money is and they build or buy their house there.

 

I feel that the ethnic Chinese want to feel aggrieved. They want to find something wrong.

 

The Europeans built communities that would last, the Chinese built temporary ones as they were there to make money and head home. Its no different today and yet if the Chinese wanted to be part of a society than they would work as hard to be a equal member as they work towards being a separate people.

 

They aren't called China towns today because people cant be friends with ethnic Chinese.

They are called that because documentaries show that the Chinese eat together, live together, play together and buy together. Being simply another person with no more position than anyone else in a community doesn't seem to be the aim.

 

Chinese want to be separate from the rest of the society. If not then why apart from the Europeans and the Maori are they the only ethnicity that has their own TV channel in thier own language. If they want people to understand thier views then subtitle thier movies, thier news shows, etc in English and Maori.

 

 

mike
August 9, 2013 at 11:44

Weight is extremely important to a pilot (for obvious reasons) and it is normally standard to call out the weight rather than volume of fue; in aviation.

Little Helmsman
August 5, 2013 at 12:30

That’s an opinion of an unbalanced communist like you. Countries wish to align with the US because the US is democratic country that does not intimidate its neighbors like a 300 pound Gorilla like China. Do you see Canada or Mexico being frightened of the US?

Maybe China can learn from the US on how to behave in a civilized way.

A11sfair
January 1, 2014 at 22:35

Heck yes! – Canada, having been invaded 11 times in the past by the U.S., and Mexico having lost half of its land mass (the better half including California and Texas) to the U.S., are both quite wary and suspicious of the U.S.

Tom F
August 4, 2013 at 09:55

@nirvana – "And if such a continent was a former British colony, what a nice revenge for humiliations suffered during the Opium Wars"

Yes, I concur, and so would most Chinese people (every where, China and abroad) evidenced by high level diplomatic exchanges for even minor rejection of Chinese investments here.

Tom F
August 4, 2013 at 09:50

@TDog – "I meant bringing China onto the world stage in a manner that doesn't involve warfare or bloodshed"

That's a voice of reason and an honourable pursuit, and any balanced viewpoint should equalise at this conclusion. However, history tells me Chinese are carrying a deep cultural burden that at some point it will feel natural to unload elsewhere. I imagine the circumstances for the unload would involve an apparatus and a will. The CCP, purely for self preservation will volunteer the apparatus, and you know as well as I do there is no shortage of Chinese people will from within and outside China. 

Visit any Chinese family anywhere (even in old British Hong Kong), you'll see in their DVD collection there is at least one drama series on the Opium war. Willingness for self sacrifices comes in peaks and troughs with Chinese people, but it peaks currently, because of the prospect of national pride from regional and possibly world domination. Perhaps the trough from the 79' Vietnam war has been forgotten, perhaps the CCP has been very good at leveraging domestic aspiration, what ever the case may be, there is definitely an accord between the CCP and the Chinese people in terms of regional and world domination.

I can't see a friendship, sharing, or cooperative context here, I only see an auction and a bidding war. The question is what's the winning price, if it's not warfare and bloodshed then what? I would argue, China has already made gains on the economic war, so has it projected itself territorially, militarily, geo-politically? Yes, also.

Personally, I think Australia has a lot at stake and I have concerns about contemporary US politics (because of the price involved to win the auction, and the fact it may not be good value for the American people), and similarly,  I am concerned about domestic Chinese politics, because I see Mrs Ly (the CCP) going off to the auction with Mr Ly's blank cheque (Mr Ly being the Chinese people). Chinese people are not each way bet kind of people, it's all or nothing win or loose. 

BTW, I concur regarding the anti-Chinese net that was so pervasive throughout recent western history, this is the personal burden referred to above. In Arrowtown (an old gold mining town in Southern New Zealand), they've restored and preserved most of the old Chinese makeshift dwellings built along a river bed. The stories of the cold winters for the young men from tropical climes, the location of the shanties sitting below the fine town homes, convents, and Masonic temples makes for a heartfelt experience of injustice against Chinese people, though I don't think contemporary Chinese enclaves is a direct result of past injustices. 

Wandering Ronin
August 3, 2013 at 21:05

The term rebalance is misleading as if any nations truly had been balanced before, pivot is better term as it implies a turn to address or assess the balance of situations.

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