CAMP ROCKY, AUSTRALIA --
About 550 Marines and Sailors with the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit arrived in Australia July 7, with more scheduled to arrive in the coming days, all to participate in exercise Talisman Sabre 2011.
The USS Germantown (LSD 42) docked in Townsville, Australia, with approximately 500 Marines and Sailors of the 31st MEU aboard, in preparation for the biennial training event which strengthens defense ties between the two countries.
Additionally, about 50 infantry and mortarmen with weapons company Battalion Landing Team, 2nd Battalion, 7th Marines, 31st MEU arrived at Camp Rocky, Australia, to participate in a joint live fire exercise with Australian Defense Forces.
“We are looking forward to the joint weapons training and the joint live fire with the naval guns and the Royal Australian Air Force, working jointly with them is something we don’t otherwise get a chance to do,” said Capt. Zeb Philpott, Weapons Company Commander, BLT 2/7. “In your whole career, you might not get to see the type of naval gunfire we’ll see here. We will have U.S. and Australian ships firing with us.”
The company of Marines will serve two purposes, said Philpott. First, they will be doing joint fire support coordination with the Australians and higher headquarters, while communicating and practicing the transfer of fire control. Secondly, the mortarmen will provide indirect mortar support and marking for the Australian Air Force and U.S. planes.
The 31st MEU’s BLT will have 81mm mortar teams and fire support coordination all working together to get the job done during the joint live fire exercise.
“It will be great to work with another military in their country,” said Lance Cpl. Matthew Haines, an infantryman with Weapons Co., BLT 2/7, from Mussila, Montana. “This will be good experience. We want to learn how they do business and show them how we work too.”
Elements of Combat Logistics Battalion 31 also arrived to conduct bilateral military police and explosive ordinance training.
“We’ll be working with the Australian police forces,” said Lance Cpl. Brett Chilson, a military policeman from Binghamton, N.Y., with CLB-31. “Hopefully we will get to ride along on actual police operations and see some new things.”
The joint police work helps to enhance partnerships between the Australian and U.S. military forces.
“I’m looking forward to seeing what they have to offer training-wise and learning from them,” said Lance Cpl. Kevin Smith, a military policeman with CLB-31. “We will be observing law enforcement operations, and we are excited to be working hand to hand with the Aussies and learning from each other.”
In addition to the participation in the ground in Australia, about 15 members of the 31st MEU command element will also participate remotely aboard USS Essex.
“We are very happy to come out to work with Australians,” said Maj. Eric Mattson, 31st MEU Talisman Sabre evaluator. “We will be observing the U.S. and Australian combat maneuvers, evaluating their skills and ensuring that things are done correctly and professionally. This will be a good chance to validate our skills and at the same time get some good training with Australian forces.”
This is the first deployment of the 31st MEU since returning from participation in Operation Tomodachi in Northeast Japan during March and April.
"The 31st MEU looks forward to the partnership with Australia and their military forces,” said Col. Andrew MacMannis, commanding officer, 31st MEU.
“This exercise increases our readiness and advances regional security in the Pacific. We look forward to validating our combat readiness and interoperability as part of a combined joint task force.”
The 31st MEU is the only continually forward-deployed MEU, and remains the nation’s force-in-readiness in the Asia-Pacific region.