Huddled in a small command post in the middle of Townsville Field Training Area, soldiers from the Australian Army’s 7th Brigade, the French Armed Forces in New Caledonia and Japan’s Ground Self-Defense Force listened intently to a commander’s update brief for Exercise Southern Jackaroo.
CAPTION: Members from the Japanese Ground Self-Defense Force, Republic of Fiji Military Forces, His Majesty’s Armed Forces – Tonga and the Australian Army attend the opening ceremony for Exercise Diamond Strike at Jezzine Barracks, Queensland. Story by Major Roger Brennan. All photos by Corporal Nicole Dorrett.
Battle Group Heeler Commanding Officer Lieutenant Colonel Richard Niessl said the exercise enabled the integration of allies, partners and the Pacific family into the 7th Brigade combined-arms organisation.
“It’s a fantastic opportunity to coordinate our security-response planning together,” he said.
Battle Group Heeler, which is based off the 6th Battalion, The Royal Australian Regiment, includes force elements from across the brigade and now the Pacific region.
CAPTION: Australian Army rifleman during Exercise Diamond Strike.
“Having our partners integrated with us enables us to improve the interoperability of our nations’ forces.
“This strengthens our deterrence capabilities and builds common resolve among our close partners,” Lieutenant Colonel Niessl said.
At the opening ceremony of Exercise Southern Jackaroo, which is nested within Exercise Diamond Strike, Commander 7th Brigade Brigadier Michael Say said the consistency of forces working alongside each other demonstrated the commitment to enhancing relationships, building teams and increasing training levels.
“Through the Defence Cooperation Program we work closely with our partners throughout the year ensuring that our nations can respond to a variety of contingencies,” Brigadier Say said.
“France, Tonga, Japan, the United States and Fiji have all sent soldiers to Australia to integrate with our combined-arms teams.
“This allows us to learn from each other and build upon our collective capabilities.”
The combined forces will progress through platoon- and combat-team-level training before culminating in a live-fire exercise in early July.
“Diamond Strike is a great opportunity to work with our peers on the road to Talisman Sabre, challenge our people and, importantly, build combined-arms teams in preparation for assuming responsibility for contingency forces,” Brigadier Say said.