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Home : Media : Speeches / Testimony
NEWS | June 29, 2017

Exercise Talisman Saber Opening Ceremony

By ADM Harry Harris U.S. Pacific Command

Adm. Harry Harris

Commander, U.S. Pacific Command

Exercise Talisman Saber Opening Ceremony

USS Bonhomme Richard

At sea, off the coast of Eastern Australia

June 29, 2017

As Delivered

Thanks, Marc, for the great introduction. I’m looking forward to seeing what an ‘Up-Gunned Expeditionary Strike Group’ can do when it’s put to the test during Talisman Saber this year!

It's an honor to be here just a stone’s throw away from Sydney and aboard the finest big deck amphibious assault ship in the Pacific Fleet! And it was awesome opportunity to catch a ride on the Marine Corps MV-22 Osprey that we recently deployed here in Australia – proof positive that the U.S. continues to bring our best platforms to the Indo-Asia-Pacific.

Thanks to all of you for being our gracious hosts for today’s ceremony. From ops to engineering to supply, I know that each of you has worked extremely hard to get ready for this deployment – so well done to you all!

Folks, U.S. Pacific Command is proud to partner with our Australian Defence Force allies for high-end war fighting scenarios during Exercise Talisman Saber. This is our 7th iteration of Talisman Saber since 2005; and we’re excited to have more than 33,000 Americans and Australians training together in various locations. This realistic and challenging exercise provides endless opportunities for our nations to innovatively prepare for regional and global security challenges.

Exercises like Talisman Saber are precisely where we really learn how to take advantage of cutting edge technology to outpace our adversaries. It’s also a perfect place for our forces to operationalize a very important concept. I’ve thrown down the gauntlet, challenging our Army, Navy, Air Force and Marine components to execute Multi-Domain Battle – to find new ways to enable our joint and multinational combined forces to be faster, more precise, more cost-effective, and – most importantly – more lethal.

When I look at the Bonhomme Richard, I see endless possibilities for the future. After all, you could say that amphibious ships are the original Multi-Domain Battle platforms – operating from the air, from the sea and from the land. So I need this Blue-Green team to lead the way during this exercise.

Talisman Saber 2017 is this E.S.G.’s final certification, and it will also support our efforts to operationalize the ‘Up-Gunned Expeditionary Strike Group’ concept. The purpose is to integrate the capabilities of an Amphibious Ready Group, or ARG, a Marine Expeditionary Unit, or MEU, with F-35B joint strike fighters, CRU-DES ships, and other enablers to allow the amphibious force to operate with more distributed lethality in a high threat environment. Such a force presents greater challenges to our adversaries and more options to our Joint and Combined component commanders.

I recognize this will be challenging; but as a Combatant Commander, I need you to create effects from any single domain to targets in every domain in order to fight tonight and win.

If we have to fight tonight, I don't want it to be a fair fight. If it’s a knife fight, I want to bring a gun. If it’s a gun fight, I want to bring in the MEU… and the artillery of our friends, partners and allies – allies, especially, like Australia.

While you’re training, I want you to remember the importance of the Australia-U.S. alliance. Remember that our alliance was forged in battle more than a century ago. We fought and died together in World Wars I and II. We fought communism in the hot wars in Korea and Vietnam, and the Cold War throughout the latter half of the 20th century. We fought together in the Gulf War. For the last decade-plus, we’ve fought side-by-side in the long wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. And today, Australia is a global leader in the fight against ISIS.

This incredible bond between our countries is as important to our future as it has been to our storied past. This alliance has strengthened peace and prosperity – not only in the Indo-Asia-Pacific, but across the globe.

So, for the next month, train hard, train safely, train jointly, and train with a willingness to learn from each other. Strive to become a more interoperable, high-end fighting force. Learn from your mistakes and take our training to the next level. Forge relationships that you can call on during crises, because we’re in this together.

Folks, the Australia-US alliance matters more today than ever before; it matters to our two great nations, it matters to the Indo-Asia-Pacific, and it matters to world. No one should doubt the staying power of this alliance to maintain security, prosperity and peace in this vital region.

May God bless each of you; and God bless Australia, the United States, and all of our allies and partners. Thank you.


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