A U.S. Navy Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron-85 intelligence analyst points out locations on a map of Central Queensland in Australia to a U.S. Air Force 1st Special Operations Squadron intelligence officer, as the analysts build the intelligence picture for the warfighting scenario of Talisman Saber 2017, July 10, 2017 at Rockhampton, Australia. Aside from service components working with the Australian military, the exercise also provided an opportunity for U.S. forces to integrate intelligence systems and share tactics, trainings and procedures with other U.S. services. (Photo by Capt. Jessica Tait)
Sailors observe a coordinated live-fire gunnery exercise from the flight deck of the aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76), June 29, 2017. The ship is the flagship of Carrier Strike Group 5, providing a combat-ready force that protects and defends the collective maritime interests of its allies and partners in the Indo-Asia-Pacific region. (Photo by (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Nathan Burke)
Sailors assigned to the amphibious transport dock USS Green Bay (LPD 20) prepare to receive cargo from the military sealift command underway replenishment oiler USNS Rappahannock (T-AO 204) during a replenishment-at-sea and as part of Talisman Saber 17. Green Bay, part of a combined U.S. -Australia-New Zealand expeditionary strike group, is undergoing a series of scenarios that will increase naval proficiencies in operating against blue-water adversarial threats and in its primary mission of launching Marine forces ashore in the littorals. Talisman Saber is a biennial U.S. -Australia bilateral exercise held off the coast of Australia meant to achieve interoperability and strengthen the U.S. -Australia alliance. (Photo by U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Sarah Myers)
U.S. Marine Lance Cpl. Fernando Griego, gunner, Company K, 3rd Battalion, 4th Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division, Marine Rotational Force Darwin, remotely fires an M1A1 Abrams with B Squadron 1st Armoured Regiment of the Royal Australian Armoured Corps, May 6, 2017. Marines remotely test fired the Abrams as a precaution after Australian Army soldiers had replaced the barrel ensuring its mission readiness. (Photo by U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Damion Hatch Jr)
Sailors and Marines man the rails as the amphibious assault ship USS Bonhomme Richard (LHD 6) pulls into the Sydney Harbor as part of a port visit, June 29,2017. Bonhomme Richard is in Sydney to advance U.S. – Australian relations ahead of the bilateral training exercise Talisman Saber. During the visit, Bonhomme Richard will host a reception, ships tours and experience the culture of the historic city. (Photo by MC2 Sarah Villegas)
Adm. Harry B. Harris, commander of U.S. Pacific Command, left, and Royal Australian Navy Vice Adm. David Johnston, Australian Defense Force Chief of Joint Operations, unfurl the ceremonial Talisman Saber 2017 flag during the Talisman Saber 2017 opening ceremony aboard the amphibious assault ship USS Bonhomme Richard (LHD 6), June 29, 2017. Talisman Saber is a biennial U.S.-Australia bilateral military exercise that combines a field training exercise and command post exercise to strengthen interoperability and response capabilities to uphold the tenets of the U.S.-Australian alliance. (Photo by U.S. Navy Photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Sarah Villegas)
A set of MV-22B Osprey tiltrotor aircraft fly in formation above Sydney Harbor. Below are the world-famous Sydney Opera House and Sydney Harbor Bridge. The MV-22Bs belong to Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 265 (Reinforced), June 29, 2017. VMM-265 (Rein.) is part of the Aviation Combat Element of the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit. The 31st MEU and the Bonhomme Richard Expeditionary Strike Group arrived in Sydney after transiting south across the vast Pacific Ocean, from Okinawa, Japan, to southeastern Australia in just over three weeks. Sydney is a favorite port stop for both Marines and Sailors crossing the Pacific. The 31st MEU partners with the Navy's Amphibious Squadron 11 to form the amphibious component of the Bonhomme Richard Expeditionary Strike Group. The 31st MEU and PHIBRON 11 combine to provide a cohesive blue-green team capable of accomplishing a variety of missions across the Indo-Asia-Pacific region. (Photo by U.S. Marine Corps photo by Staff Sgt. T. T. Parish)
In this file photo, an MH-60 Seahawk assigned to Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron (HSC) 25 drops cargo pallets on the flight deck of the amphibious transport dock USS Green Bay (LPD 20) during replenishment-at-sea (RAS), June 16, 2017. Green Bay, part of the Bonhomme Richard Expeditionary Strike Group, is operating in the Indo-Asia-Pacific region to enhance partnerships and be a ready-response force for any type of contingency. (Photo by U.S. Navy Photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Sarah Villegas)
ROCKHAMPTON, Australia -- Though hidden behind the scenes, the intelligence analysts of the 353rd Special Operations Group and their Australian counterparts paint the big picture of the warfighting scenario for Talisman Saber 2017, a biennial military training exercise from 23 June to 25 July throughout various locations in Australia.
“We are working with our Australian counterparts to do an intelligence based exercise, where operations are driven by the intelligence picture we provide,” said U.S. Air Force Tech Sgt. Justin Smith, 320th Special Tactics Squadron noncommissioned-officer-in-charge of special tactics intelligence. “We are usually in the background behind closed doors so people often don’t realize the impact we have.”
Talisman Saber 2017 provides the relevant training necessary to maintain regional security, peace and stability.
“This is one of the key Australian-led exercises that we participate in,” said U.S. Air Force 2nd Lt. Bryce Jarvis, 1st Special Operations Squadron chief of intelligence. “The scenario development helps hone our skills by being able to produce products and tailor actionable intel for our aircrew and special tactics executing missions in a warfighting environment.”
With more than 33,000 U.S. and Australian personnel participating in Talisman Saber, there is a significant intelligence presence here than in other international exercises.
“Including our partners, we have a total of 40 intel bodies supporting this exercise due to the sheer size of participation and moving pieces,” said Jarvis. “Whether it’s from the air component across the different branches of service to include U.S. Air Force, Navy and Army to all the Australian Defence Force units participating. This is just a larger exercise, so there is far more intelligence associated with that.”
The uniquely complex and challenging multinational environment provides realistic warfighting training for the special operations forces.
“The critical thinking aspects of our job are being tested in a way that we don’t always get to execute in other exercises,” said Jarvis. “For instance, how do we defeat a complex weapon system? We don’t always look at that, so getting back into a warfighting capacity is always good.”
The 353rd SOG will work with the Australian Army’s 6th Aviation and 2nd Commando Regiments, 37th Squadron Royal Australian Air Force, 40th Squadron Royal New Zealand Air Force, U.S. Navy Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron-85 (HSC-85) and U.S. Marine Corps 3rd Reconnaissance Battalion during Talisman Saber 2017. This military cooperation allows for increased partnership building capacity and interoperability.
“The ability of all of us to get together and partner with each other ensures we are all operating on the same page,” said Jarvis. “It’s been great to see the differences in how we work, whether that’s different briefing styles or products. All of that comes together in the end to fuse and encourage that interoperability we are striving for in this scenario.”
Aside from service components working with the Australian military, the exercise also provides an opportunity for U.S. forces to integrate intelligence systems and share tactics, trainings and procedures with other U.S. services.
“HSC-85 brings to the fight a unique and highly tactical rotary wing platform, with tactical intelligence requirements that other service elements may not have been exposed to,” said U.S. Navy Lt. Cmdr. Sean Johnson, HSC-85 tactical intelligence officer. “The sharing of intelligence resources, best practices and product development will greatly enhance future integration as U.S. and coalition forces assist the Combatant Commanders in the shaping of the operational environment.”
The U.S.-Australian alliance remains a model in the Indo-Asia Pacific region.
“It’s been phenomenal working with our Australian partners and I wouldn’t have it any other way,” said Smith. “These guys are great and their capability far surpasses my expectations. I’d like to learn more from them as time goes on and hopefully we can provide the same training base they are providing as well.”