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NEWS | July 17, 2015

Antietam, Australian Defence Force Strengthen Air Defense Readiness

By Mass Communication Specialist Ricardo R. Guzman, USS Antietam Public Affairs

TIMOR SEA (NNS) -- The Ticonderoga-class guided-missile cruiser USS Antietam (CG 54) participated in an air defense exercise (ADEX) with the Australian Defence Force in support of Talisman Sabre (TS) 2015, July 12.

TS is a biennial exercise that aims to improve interoperability between U.S. and Australian forces for a variety of possible future military contingencies, and includes combined training and validation for maritime, land and air operations.

"The ADEX pushes the proficiency of our air controllers, communications and chain of command, while working with our Australian allies," said Lt. Shawn Tagan, Antietam's weapons department officer and tactical action officer. "We're able to sharpen and refine our abilities with the strike group and Australian Defence Force by conducting integrated training using both nations' aircraft."

During the exercise, international partners were split into two integrated teams that acted as two fictional nations at war. Each team worked together as a combined task force to improve both nations' abilities to act together to gain a tactical and strategic advantage.

"The purpose of the ADEX is to practice the command and control and integrations between naval surface ships and naval aircraft," said Ensign Amy Topham, Antietam's air defense officer. "This scenario was an example of defending a high value asset against inbound, air launched anti-cruise missiles."

The ADEX exercise was not limited to defensive and offensive warfighting scenarios. Logistics operations were also conducted to improve combat readiness.

"We did some fuel tanking with [Royal Australian Air Force] aircraft," Tagan added. "It may not be the same aircraft we're used to working with, but the fueling was seamless."

This is the sixth iteration of TS since 2005. The exercise is generally held during odd years, and merges the previous exercises of Tandem Thrust and Crocodile into one biennial, joint, combined exercise with U.S. and Australian forces.

"In the event that any conflict was to occur in the future, we most certainly will need our Australian allies," said Topham. "These events build proficiency when working together, and ensure that we will be able to work together seamlessly in the future."

The Australian-U.S. alliance continues to be a model of close cooperation and trust in the Asia-Pacific region. Both countries are committed to work together to preserve peace and prevent conflict through maritime security, counterterrorism, defense trade, and security in the region.

"It's been excellent training and a great opportunity for us to integrate with our Australian partners because they are extremely crucial to theater security in this part of the world," said Tagan. "Working closely with our allies in real-world scenarios provides the opportunity to use each other's strengths to gain an advantage if any contingency were to arise."

TS 15 is a biennial exercise that provides an invaluable opportunity for more than 30,000 U.S. and Australian Defence Force personnel to conduct operations in a combined, joint and interagency environment that will increase both countries' ability to plan and execute a full range of operations from combat missions to humanitarian assistance efforts.

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