The town of Ingham, north of Townsville has provided a realistic training ground for the Australian Army and US Armed Forces to improve their skills in communicating with the public during military operations.
CAPTION: United States Army Public Affairs Staff Sergeant Brittney Adams and Warrant Officer Class 2 Shane Harris speak with a civilian role player while Private James Hoffman stands nearby in Ingham, Queensland as part of Exercise Talisman Sabre 2023. Story by Major Jesse Robilliard. Photo by Corporal Michael Currie.
More than 200 members of the Army Reserve, mostly from New South Wales, were in the Herbert River town, practicing protection operations during Exercise Talisman Sabre 2023 as part of Battle Group Waratah.
Two soldiers from the Australian Army Reserve and three soldiers from the US Army Reserve were tested in Civil Military Cooperation with a host of role-playing actors and local politicians creating exercise-based dilemmas for them to handle.
US Army Captain Karen Fong from the 448th Civil Affairs Battalion, based in Washington State has been impressed with the realism confronting Battle Group Waratah.
“For us this is top-notch training, we don’t get some of that experience back in the US – the role players we have are always members of the US armed forces,” Captain Fong said.
“For us to have this kind of training, its immeasurable.”
Army Reserve Captain David Tobin from the Second Division said that while US Army Civil Affairs and Australian Civil Military Cooperation (CIMIC) are slightly different, they are working towards the same goal.
“We are trying to reduce the impact of military operations on civilians, remove those friction points with the local community and also enhance interoperability with the US civil affairs team,” Captain Tobin said.
“It’s been a great learning experience for us and vice versa for them as well, to see how we work together and the different mechanisms about how we work.”
A host of role-playing civilians put the Australian and US CIMIC team through a range of scenarios familiar to recent operations.
The town of Ingham warmly received the temporary residents during Exercise Talisman Sabre 2023.
Deputy Mayor of Hinchinbrook Shire Council, Councillor Andrew Cripps gave his time to role play as himself in the exercise scenario.
Captain Tobin said the realistic training in Ingham significantly enhanced the capability of CIMIC.
“It’s a great opportunity for us to apply what we are trained to do with some real-time people, the role players,” he said.
“This exercise has also made us think outside the box and I think exercise control has done a really good job at creating a sense of realism in the scenario.
“We are interacting with the role players, many of whom come from the local community who have embraced our activity.”