By KATE BANVILLE
IMPOSING warships will be positioned along North Queensland’s coastline as military troops begin amphibious assault training in preparation for large scale wargames.
Currently docked in Townsville, HMAS Canberra – Australia’s largest warship – and HMAS Choules will move north to Cowley Beach as part of a two-week amphibious warfighting exercise beginning on June 2.
The section of coastline between Townsville and Cairns will be overrun by some of the ADF’s most lethal equipment when about 1800 soldiers, sailors and aviators carry out land, sea and air assault scenarios in order to integrate their training to test the strength of the ADF’s Amphibious Force.
HMAS Canberra is a Landing Helicopter Dock, capable of carrying more than 100 military vehicles including Australian Light-Armoured Vehicles, 12 Abrams main battle tanks, machine guns and 18 helicopters with 6 operating simultaneously from the flight deck, while HMAS Choules is a Landing Ship Dock. Both are capable of projecting significant amphibious forces, including troops, vehicles and aircraft from ship to shore.
Amphibious Task Force Commander Captain Leif Maxfield said the exercise was the second of three major annual training activities intended to integrate, train and evaluate the Australian Amphibious Force in amphibious warfare.
“The exercise will see hundreds of soldiers practice beach landings on various vessels, integration with three Army helicopter variants, combat enhancement training and other series in both wet and dry environments both by day and night,” Captain Maxfield said.
The exercise will act as a warm up in preparation for the largest bilateral training activity between Australia and the United States – known as Talisman Sabre – which is set to begin on July 14.
In addition to the United States, Exercise Talisman Sabre 2021 will involve participating forces from Canada, Japan, Republic of Korea, New Zealand, and the United Kingdom.
In 2019, Exercise Talisman Sabre involved more than 34,000 personnel from Australia and the United States.
It was the largest exercise of its kind hosted by Australia with forces from Canada, Japan, New Zealand, and the United Kingdom also embedded alongside Australian Defence Force personnel, and delegations from India and the Republic of Korea able to observe the exercise. Eighteen nations from across the Indo-Pacific region were also involved as part of an international visitors program.
The large scale operation was estimated to pump about $20 million into the Queensland economy, a Defence spokesman said.
The spokesman said it’s economic benefit for Talisman Sabre 2021 wouldn’t be known until an assessment upon its completion, however fewer international participants due to COVID-19 are expected to have an impact.
“Observer nations presently include France, India and Indonesia. All personnel from these observer nations are Australian based,” the Defence spokesman said.
“Some components of the exercise, involving foreign maritime and air elements, will occur exclusively offshore.
“All foreign forces entering Australia will comply with mandatory quarantine and travel requirements.”