The Australian Ministry of Defence announced that the country will host the largest-ever Exercise Talisman Sabre: a bilateral training exercise between Australia and the US. The exercise will bring 30,000 military personnel together, almost double the number that partipcated in 2021.

The biennial exercise provides the opportunity to exercise high-end, multi-domain warfare capabilities, build and affirm military-to-military ties and interoperability, as well as strengthen strategic partnerships across the region. This year, it will run from 22 July to 4 August primarily in Queensland but also in western Australia, the Northern Territory, and New South Wales.

But beyond these aspects there is a more crucial element to the exercise: conducting large-scale logistics.

Exercise director Brigadier Damian Hill stated: “This year’s exercise will demonstrate our ability to receive large volumes of personnel and equipment into Australia from across the Indo-Pacific and stage, integrate and move them forward into the large exercise area.”

Importance of logistics

With tensions mounting between the US and China, the Indo-Pacific region is quickly becoming a scene for confrontation as China encroaches into neighbouring territories, from India to Taiwan. Australia is a key strategic ally of the US in the region, where the country boasts an enviable defence industrial base and critical resources.

The country uses highly interoperable platforms and equipment as a fellow Nato partner, sharing the F-35 Lightning II stealth fighter jets and the future AUKUS nuclear submarine fleet. Australia is also currently engaged in the development of its own military sateillite communications system, which is designed to maintain constant situational awareness across the Indo-Pacific theatre.

But as the leading force in a coalition of countries committed to preserving the rules-based order, the US faces the problem of an enormous distance from the region. Conducting large-scale logistics in a testing maritime environment such as the Indian and Pacific oceans will make Australia a vital platform from which to conduct its ammphibious operations.

Talisman Sabre 2023 will be a valuable exercise due to the enormity of personnel and military equipment involved. Confirmed participating partner nations in the exercise include Fiji, Indonesia, Japan, Republic of Korea, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Tonga, France, UK, Canada and Germany. The Philippines, Singapore and Thailand will attend as observers.

The 14-day exercise will include large scale logistics, multi-domain firepower demonstrations, land combat, amphibious landings, and air operations.

Australia’s Deputy Prime Minister Richard Marles stated: “Australia is excited to host what will be the largest ever iteration of Talisman Sabre this year, involving more of our partner nations than ever before.

“Talisman Sabre reflects a shared commitment to enduring relationships between trusted partners, and a stable Indo-Pacific through an upholding of the rules-based order.”