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A First: Japan’s Maritime Self-Defense Force Joins US-Australia Talisman Sabre Exercises

 
 

Japan’s Maritime Self-Defense Force will participate in the bilateral United States-Australia Talisman Sabre military exercises next month, according to a Jane’s Defense Weekly report. The MSDF’s participation in Talisman Sabre will be a first.

According to Janes, a spokesperson for the MSDF said that Japan will be sending multiple vessels to participate in the exercises, including the Hyuga-class helicopter carrier JS Ise and the Osumi-class transport dock ship JS Kunisaki. The spokesperson also added that 500 MSDF personnel would be participating in the exercise.

Talisman Sabre is taking place this year between July 11 and 24. “TS19 is designed to practice our respective military services and associated agencies in planning and conducting Combined and Joint Task Force operations, and improve the combat readiness and interoperability between Australian and U.S. forces,” an Australian Department of Defense statement notes.

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“Occurring every two years, Talisman Sabre is a major exercise reflecting the closeness of our alliance and strength of the enduring military relationship.”

Talisman Sabre 2019 will take place in the Australian Defense Force’s Shoalwater Bay Military Training Area, off the coast of Queensland. Last week, USS Wasp, a U.S. Navy amphibious assault ship, arrived in Sydney, Australia, for a port visit ahead of Talisman Sabre.

Apart from USS Wasp, USS Green Bay and USS Ashland compose the Wasp Amphibious Ready Group. The 31st U.S. Marine Expeditionary Unit is embarked on board USS Wasp.

Japan’s participation in this year’s exercise reflects Tokyo’s growing investment in networked security cooperation across the Indo-Pacific. Trilateral U.S.-Japan-Australia cooperation in particular has grown in recent years. Elsewhere, the three countries have also increased cooperation with India through consultative working-group meetings.

Japan is also a participant in the formerly bilateral U.S.-India Malabar naval exercise. That exercise was trilateralized in 2015 amid growing cooperation between New Delhi and Tokyo. Japan and Australia are both U.S. treaty allies.

Japan’s participating in Talisman Sabre follows a trilateral defense ministers’ meeting on the sidelines of the Shangri-La Dialogue, a security forum, earlier this month in Singapore. There, Australian Minister for Defense Linda Reynolds, Japanese Minister of Defense Takeshi Iwaya, and then-U.S. Acting Secretary of Defense Patrick Shanahan discussed trilateral security cooperation.

The ministers did not announce Japan’s participation in Talisman Sabre in a release issued after their meeting, noting instead that they had “agreed to do more to coordinate their respective regional defense engagement activities, such as joint exercises and training and capacity building.”

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