The U.S. Navy nuclear-powered Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan began participating in a major Australia-U.S. naval exercise off the coast of Australia on July 8, the U.S. Navy announced in a statement.
The biennially-held bilateral naval exercise, dubbed Exercise Talisman Saber 17, kicked off on June 23 and will last into late July. The principal aim of the military drill is “to enhance U.S.-Australian military interoperability through a variety of maritime, land and air operations scenarios,” according to U.S. Pacific Command.
Talisman Saber 17, focused on the planning and conduct of mid-intensity high end warfighting, according to the Australian Department of Defense, involves more than 33,000 including the USS Ronald Reagan carrier strike group (CSG), the USS Bonhomme Richard expeditionary strike group (ESG), and over 200 Australian and U.S. military aircraft.
The USS Ronald Reagan is the U.S. Navy’s only forward-deployed carrier homeported at Yokosuka Naval Base in Japan’s Kanagawa Prefecture. The ship resumed regular operations in the Asia Pacific region in May following an in-port maintenance period and the completion of its last patrol cycle in November 2016.
“Talisman Saber is an excellent opportunity for Sailors from both navies to train together and enhance our collective, maritime capabilities,” said the Ronald Reagan’s commanding officer. “Our ability to integrate seamlessly with our Australian Defence Force partners is integral to our combined efforts to support peace and stability in the region.”
The Wasp-class amphibious assault ship USS Bonhomme Richard, which already participated in the 2015 iteration of Talisman Saber, departed its forward-deployed base of Sasebo, Japan early last month to take part in this year’s drill. The USS Bonhomme Richard along with 11 Australian, New Zealand, and U.S. amphibious ships and escorts form the expeditionary strike group throughout the exercise.
“The increased complexity of this exercise will test our capabilities to integrate surface forces and further refine concepts of the ‘Up-Gunned ESG,’” said the commanding officer of the Bonhomme Richard ESG. “Australian and New Zealand forces are key enablers of this concept in Talisman Saber 2017, and we are looking forward to building a strong team with them.”
“This is the seventh iteration of the exercise and will focus on training a combined task force of U.S. and Australian forces in a mid-intensity warfighting scenario, incorporating interagency participation, along with a command post exercise involving a transition between a three and four-star headquarters,” according to the U.S. military.
Both sides will also conduct sea, land, air, and cyber training exercises in and around Australia. 2017 Talisman Saber is only the second iteration of the exercise to put an emphasis on mid-intensity high end warfighting, whereas previous drill focused more on humanitarian aid, disaster relief, and counterterrorism operations.