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Military training exercise invades Bowen

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BOWEN businesses and residents could be the winners when a massive war games exercise is played out.

Operation Talisman Sabre will run from July 22 to August 4 and involve 30,000 military personnel from 13 countries, part of the largest military training exercise ever held in Australia.

Colonel Bernie Kronen, from the Australian Defence Force, and First Sergeant Peter Rogers, of the US Army, outlined how Bowen would feature in the manoeuvres, at last week’s Bowen Chamber of Commerce meeting.

Pizza and coffee will be high on the agenda for Americans during their downtime along with visits to local beaches, fishing and other water activities, according to Sgt Rogers.

Colonel Kronen said Australian soldiers would also be keen to sample local fare to complement army rations.

Both men stressed that soldiers, sailors and airmen and women would do their best to look after locals on their downtime and hoped residents would give the armed forces a warm welcome.

While many will be housed in tents at Bowen’s airport and showgrounds, they would look to enjoy their time in the district, after hours.

Colonel Kronen said the manoeuvres would begin on July 22 with an amphibious landing at Kings Beach and soldiers would be highly visible along local streets and in the nearby countryside, from beaches to fields.

“Support from country towns has been fantastic in the 10 years Operation Talisman Sabre has been conducted and we expect it to continue,” Colonel Kronen said.

“We will be rehearsing our capabilities in a 50-50 joint operation with the Americans and another 13 countries will also be involved, so their armed forces all know how we operate.

“It also gives any potential adversaries an idea of what they will be up against in any future conflict,” he said.

The manoeuvres will see about 900 personnel and 300 vehicles in the local area throughout the exercise so people will see a lot of army vehicles around.

While the exercise lasts two weeks, personnel would be in Bowen about six weeks, Colonel Kronen said.

Tents are already being erected at the airport and showgrounds before full activity starts.

“We hope we get support from everyone here,” he said.

Bowen will be just one theatre for the manoeuvres, as many other parts of northern Australia will see tens of thousands of military personnel take part, nearly double the numbers of the 2021 exrcise.

This will be the 10th war games conducted in the north with mock battles, beach landings and tactical exercises enacted, mainly in Queensland but also in Western Australia, the Northern Territory and New South Wales.

Talisman Sabre is the largest bilateral combined training activity between the Australian Defence Force and United States military, “reflecting the closeness of our alliance,” Col Kronen said.

It will not only be American forces involved, the exercise will bring in various service personnel from Fiji, Indonesia, Japan, South Korea, New Zealand, Papua-New Guinea, Tonga, France, United Kingdom, Canada and Germany. The Philippines, Singapore and Thailand will attend as observers.

Army commanders see the exercise as an opportunity to exercise high-end, multi-domain warfare capabilities, build and affirm military-to-military ties and inter-operability and strengthen strategic partnerships across the region.

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