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International and Joint Logistics Support: Exercise Talisman Saber

Talisman Saber, a joint exercise held off the north-eastern shores of Australia, is Australia’s largest biennial training exercise with forces from U.S. Pacific Command (PACOM). The exercise merges two full-spectrum events, exercises Tandem Thrust and Crocodile, to enable the forces to meet Australian and U.S. training objectives in a sophisticated warfighting environment and to reinforce the crucial cooperative strategic relationship between the countries. The primary focus of Talisman Saber is to exercise the headquarters element of the principal joint task force (JTF) for PACOM.

Talisman Saber 2009 (TS09), which concluded on 25 July 2009 after 13 days of maneuvers, enabled 24,500 personnel with 75 ships and 150 aircraft to practice their operational warfighting capabilities without any logistics shortfalls.


The Marine Corps Forces Pacific (MARFORPAC) and the U.S. Navy’s 7th Fleet alternate responsibility as the lead planning agency and blue force command each exercise cycle. The executive agent for TS09 was MARFORPAC, with the III Marine Expeditionary Force functioning as the combined task force for certification of the JTF headquarters. Australia’s Joint Logistics Command (JLC), Headquarters Joint Operations Command, and 17th Combat Service Support Brigade served as the lead logistics agencies responsible for providing coordinated support to all U.S. and Australian force sustainment operations.

Cooperative defense logistics support agreements and acquisition and cross-servicing agreements (ACSAs) provided the guidelines for logistics support and proved to be effectively understood and implemented by both nations.

Providing Support

JLC used the national agreements to plan, coordinate, synchronize, and monitor the delivery of nationally integrated base support effects (joint logistics provided by U.S. and Australian force elements from both nations’ Marine Corps, Navy, and Air Force) to ensure TS09 met the exercise directives. This overarching support from the national support base led to the coordinated delivery of efficient and effective logistics that allowed exercise participants to train, fight, and win in today’s multinational joint strategic environment. The command, in concert with the 17th Combat Ser­vice Support Brigade and other logistics organizations, provided world-class national and regional sustainment to the exercise with no major shortfalls.

The 17th Combat Service Support Brigade provided general sustainment support to participating U.S. forces, including road transportation, distribution support, fuel and food supply, explosive ordnance disposal services, terminal services at air and sea ports, local contracting, health support, water transport, amphibious beach team support, air dispatch, and vehicle recovery.

During three planning conferences conducted over the course of the 20 months preceding TS09, Australian Defence Force logistics planners used ACSAs to ensure that the right goods and services were delivered in the right amounts to the right locations. The ACSA process provides a relatively simple method with the greatest flexibility to satisfy a wide range of logistics requirements that are specified by treaty and are legally binding by international law.

Ninety-one mutual logistic support requests (MLSRs) valuing a total of more than $5 million were processed during the exercise. JLC provided life support facilities, accommodations, food service, rental cars, and other unit-level supplies through 44 MLSRs valued at more than $2.8 million. The following are just some examples of support provided by JLC business units: 115,000 fresh rations (valued at $1.5 million), 445 tents with extensions, 2,035 floorboards, 1,300 sleeping bags, 1,680 wool blankets, 3,400 stretchers, 644 tables, 1,500 insect nets, and 30,960 combat rations.

TS09 was a complex, large-scale event that required detailed logistics planning involving many joint, multinational, and interagency logistics organizations and other logistics units within the Australian Defence Force. JLC planners have captured valuable lessons learned from TS09 and now have the foundation to start planning Talisman Saber 2011 with the U.S. Navy’s 7th Fleet from Hawaii.

Lieutenant Colonel William C. Johnson, Jr., was an exchange officer assigned as the J–5 logistics planner for the Joint Logistics Command in Melbourne, Australia, when he wrote this article. He holds a B.S. degree in business management from Longwood University and an M.S. degree in logistics management from Florida Institute of Technology. He is a graduate of the Airborne, Air Assault, Ranger, Jumpmaster, and Pathfinder schools, and the Ordnance Officer Basic Course, Support Operations Course, Combined Logistics Officers Advanced Course, and Command and General Staff Officer Course.

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