Build it and they will land

There aren’t many militaries capable of building a highway from the ocean to the shore.

CAPTIONA US Army floating causeway approaches the shore in Bowen North Queensland during Exercise Talisman Sabre, marking the opening of joint logistics over the shore activities. Story and photos by Corporal Jacob Joseph.

The US military is one of them – after all, it was a US general who coined the phrase, amateurs talk tactics and professionals talk logistics.

The 300-metre long cargo ships USNS Bob Hope and Fisher have become familiar sights for Bowen residents during Exercise Talisman Sabre 2023, held throughout July and August.

The massive ships are silhouetted against the horizon as personnel from the US Army 17th Transportation Brigade plan the construction of a makeshift pier, called the trident, stretching hundreds of metres from sea to beach.

When finished, it will become the main artery for equipment and troops streaming onto the Bowen beachhead, the boots and wheels on the ground for a US expeditionary force entering into “hostile territory”.

The US Army can land in many places where there’s a beach, according to harbour master detachment commander Chief Warrant Officer Class 2 (CW2) Joseph LeCroix.

CAPTIONUnited States Army vehicle successfully lands on the beach from a floating causeway in Bowen North Queensland during Exercise Talisman Sabre.

It was the first time joint logistics over the shore (JLOTS) was exercised in Australia.

“I love the fact that the 17th Brigade is involved in Talisman Sabre and we’re utilising our watercraft in Australia,” CW2 LeCroix said.

“From my point of view, Talisman Sabre in the past was run as if we already had equipment on the land.

“This helps close the gap for transportation from different parts of the world to a conflict area.”

He said the scale of US involvement was similar to other JLOT exercises, involving multiple vessels and thousands of pieces of equipment.

CAPTIONUnited States Army equipment successfully lands on the beach from a floating causeway in Bowen North Queensland during Exercise Talisman Sabre.

Sergeant Derek Wine 331st Transportation Company was responsible for establishing a football-field sized temporary pontoon, designed to sit off the side of the cargo ships before vehicles and equipment could be staged onto the trident pier.

“It’s pretty amazing what we have the ability to do,” Sergeant Wine said.

“Wherever the Army says we go, we go — we’ve operated in Antarctica and UAE at the same time.

“But never in my life did I think I’d be in Australia, sitting here building this massive platform floating in the sea and driving boats.

“It’s pretty amazing.”


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