By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Indra Bosko, Commander, U.S. 7th Fleet Public Affairs
SYDNEY, Australia (NNS) -- More than 260 military and civilian augmentees from Australia and the U.S. arrived aboard the U.S. 7th Fleet flagship USS Blue Ridge (LCC 19), July 6, bringing additional manpower and competencies to the U.S. 7th Fleet staff prior to the start of exercise Talisman Sabre 2015.
"The augmentees bring in the additional capability and capacity to our current 7th Fleet staff," said Cmdr. Mike Bisbee, the exercise's co-lead. He also emphasized the augmentees' abilities "to command and control" a large force with multiple services and communities represented.
Military leaders from each nation stressed to troops the importance of involvement in the exercise.
"Get involved, get active, be absolutely absorbed in the scenarios and be a part of the exercise," said Air Commodore Chris Westwood, of the Royal Australian Air Force, to the augmentees during indoctrination.
According to augmentees from both nations' militaries, the exercise is a great way to not only sharpen military strategic skills, but also to form strong bonds among service members.
"The hospitality and friendship that has been extended aboard the 7th Fleet flagship strengthens the relationship between the Australian and U.S. defense forces," said Lt. Col. Nick Bolton, an augmentee from Australia's 1st Division Army.
"I'm here to not only use my skills, but to also maintain a good relationship with my allies," addded Capt. Kevin Jolley, from Australia's 1st Division Army. "As a junior officer, Talisman Sabre gives me the opportunity to work at a high level command."
Talisman Sabre is the largest Australia-U.S. bilateral exercise, and provides a realistic and challenging training environment to practice readiness and interoperability between the two nations, while enhancing contributions to security and stability in the Asia-Pacific region. More than 30,000 personnel will participate in this iteration of the biennial training, at various locations throughout Australia, with the goals of improving Australian and U.S. combat readiness and interoperability; maximizing combined training opportunities; and demonstrating U.S. resolve to support the security operations of a key ally.