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US Marines, Australian Defence Force personnel grapple to strengthen bonds during Talisman Sabre 2011

16 Jul 2011 | Gunnery Sgt. Cindy Fisher

Australian Defence Force troops and U.S. Marines went head-to-head at Camp Rocky in Rockhampton during Talisman Sabre 2011.

Talisman Sabre 2011 is a biennial combined training exercise designed to train Australian and U.S. forces in planning and conducting Combined Task Force operations to improve Australian Defense Force/U.S. combat readiness and interoperability. It reflects the closeness of the alliance and the strength and flexibility of the ongoing military-military relationship.

In the spirit of interoperability and building stronger relationships, U.S. Marines with Combat Logistics Regiment 37, 3rd Marine Logistics Regiment, III Marine Expeditionary Force, hosted a Marine Corps martial arts program demonstration and invited ADF troops to participate in a physical fitness drill.

“With this drill, we’re trying to build relations with the Australians and the Marine team,” explained U.S. Marine Staff Sgt. Thomas A. Salas, a martial arts instructor trainer with CLR-37 who led the drill. “I hope [the Australians] pick up on our core values: honor, courage and commitment, and our martial arts mentality: the mentality of one mind, any weapon.”

During the demo ADF troops, CLR-37 Marines and Marines with the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit gathered to watch CLR-37 Marine martial arts instructor trainers provide tips for ground fighting using lessons learned during MCMAPS training. Drill participants were then separated into two teams of about 15 U.S. and ADF troops.

The teams completed three exercises: a movement-to-contact exercise, squad pushups and hanging squad sit ups. The exercises are designed to foster communication and teamwork while building endurance and strength.

This was evident as teams began the squad pushups. The teams lay head-to-toe with team members stacking their feet on the shoulders of the person behind them. The team then had to complete twenty pushups in unison. Pushups did not count unless all team members pushed up and returned to the ground together, illustrating that communication was essential.

“You won’t succeed unless you work together,” Marine instructors shouted as the teams struggled to complete the squad pushup

“It’s not about you. It’s always about the rest of your team. How you train is how you’re going to fight,” explained Salas.

The exercises were very different, said ADF Lt. Ellen Quinn, from Wollongong, New South Wales. Quinn is a nursing officer with Combat Team Berserker, a team of ADF personnel assembled to support TS11.

“This is above what we would normally do. I think the whole idea of joining in the team thing is a wonderful idea,” explained Quinn who was a spectator at the event.

ADF Cpl. Casey Bone, from Richmond, Queensland, also with Combat Team Berserker, agreed.

“It was fun, but not at all what I expected,” said Bone who participated in the event. “Our PT is a little different. It was excellent to see how [Marines] run it. [Marines] were a lot more inspiring.”

After the exercises, the two teams grappled against each other in Marine Corps-style ground fighting with ADF troops winning as many bouts as Marines.

Salas explained the rules, “There is no eye gouging, no fish hooking, no striking, just grappling. This is strictly upper body and chokes.”

Each bout lasted two minutes or until one opponent tapped out signaling defeat.

This event was great for strengthen bonds between U.S. and ADF troops especially since the teams were mixed, according to Sgt. Andrea Rague, from Portland, Maine, with Marine Heavy Helicopter Squadron 362, Marine Aircraft Group 24, 1st Marine Aircraft Wing, III MEF.

“Absolutely it was. You’re not rooting for Marines versus Australians. You’re rooting for who is on your team,” said Rague who participated in the event.

“It was good training,” agreed Pfc. Eric Vasquez, from West Islip, N.Y., with CLR-37. “It was a good chance to get everyone together and good exercise.”

31st Marine Expeditionary Unit