LIVE EXERCISES: A High Mobility Artillery Rocket System live-fire demonstration took place at the Shoalwater Bay Training Area, as part of the lead-up to Talisman Sabre 2019.
LIVE EXERCISES: A High Mobility Artillery Rocket System live-fire demonstration took place at the Shoalwater Bay Training Area, as part of the lead-up to Talisman Sabre 2019. Allan Reinikka ROK080719ahimars1

Joint forces use rare opportunity for rocket systems demo

A PRE-Talisman Sabre 2019 (TS19) demonstration at Shoalwater Bay Military Training Area was one of the few able to take place in the world.

US and Australian defence forces embarked on the subtropical training area on Monday for a High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HiMARS) live-fire demonstration.

Commanding Officer of 12 Marine Artillery Regiment (Okinawa, Japan) Colonel Michael Roach said there were very few areas that allowed the US forces to train and use such capabilities demonstrated at Shoalwater on Monday, particularly to their full potential.

The event involved the integration of several lethal and non-lethal capabilities, and include a US Army and US Marine Corps HiMARS, the US Marine Corps F-35B and the US Army A64 Apache helicopter.

The demonstration was complemented by a range of assets, including a US Marine Corps C-130 Aircraft, RAAF P-8 Poseidon Maritime Surveillance Aircraft, E7 Airborne Early Warning and Control Aircraft, Australian Army S100, and the Royal Australian Navy Scan Eagle Unmanned Aircraft Systems, and Amphibious Pre Landing Force Operators from the 2nd Battalion Royal Australian Regiment.

"It was an opportunity to showcase the capability that the US Marine are developing for the Pacific which is a highly mobile rocket system that can go after time-critical targets,” Col Roach said.

"But more importantly, what I think we gained today is re-enforcing the interoperability and friendships between the US and Australian alliance for the Pacific.

"What happened (Monday) was showing of a capability of an insurrection of a mobile artillery rocket system on a Marine Corp with the use of US Marine Corp aircraft with a combination of a commanding patrol from Australian Defence Force and also multiple assets operating (on) land, air and sea and inserting that capability into the Shoalwater Bay Military Training Area (SWBTA).”

He said they used multiple Australian systems to engage a target over a long distance.

Col Roach said the exercise was important to US forces to be part of because "the Pacific was a complex environment”.

"Preparation on an exercise like this is years in the making,” he said.

"So this is the culmination of a lot of hard work by American and Australian partners working together to put together thousands of soldiers and marines in an area, a region, that really nothing existed (in) before ... just a while ago, this area (SWBTA) was just kangaroos and emus.”

TS19 will be the eighth iteration of the exercise and consists of a field training exercise incorporating force preparation (logistic) activities, amphibious landings, land force manoeuvre, urban operations, air operations, maritime operations and Special Forces activities.

The majority of TS19 exercise activities will take place in the existing ADF Shoalwater Bay Training Area and surrounding State Forests, near Rockhampton in Central Queensland.

Other events will be held around Stanage Bay and the Capricorn Coast, Whitsunday Region (Bowen, Proserpine and surrounding areas), Mackay region (including south of Sarina), Bundaberg and surrounding region, the ADF Townsville Field Training Area and the ADF Evans Head Air Weapons Range.

TS19 will run from until early next month, including the initial surge of equipment and people and their subsequent departure after the exercise. Exercises in SWBTA and region is at a peak until July24.