In the small north Queensland community of Ingham (population 4400), one of the friendly locals has just dropped off a bag of fresh passionfruit for the troops.
CAPTION: Commander Force Sustainment Group Colonel Charmaine Benfield, centre, and FSG personnel chat with Judy Braithwaite at the Ingham markets during Exercise Talisman Sabre. Story by Lieutenant Geoff Long. Photos by Sergeant David Said.
For the around 1000 Defence personnel located in Ingham during Talisman Sabre, such interactions were what they came to expect.
Commander Force Sustainment Group Colonel Charmaine Benfield said the town had been incredible in its support of the Defence units in town for the exercise.
“The people of Ingham have been taking every opportunity to come and talk to us and make us feel welcome and we are also taking the chance to engage with the community,” Colonel Benfield said.
“We’ve had invitations from schools, the CWA and even to the local trivia night so we’re going to support that wherever we can,” she said.
Force Sustainment Group has been located nearby the Sunday markets in the suburb of Forrest Beach, where Defence personnel recently spent the morning engaging with the visitors.
A number of scenarios have been set in the town, including a simulated media team and protester role players who live in the Ingham area.
Combat Training Centre Commander Colonel Ben McLennan said the use of non-defence training areas like the town of Ingham was a major advantage for Australian exercises.
“Many of our international partners have commented that one of the things that impresses them the most is that we have this relationship with our population that allows us to train among the public,” he said.
Wayne Squire, President of the Forrest Beach Progress Association, said the public and local businesses were happy to have the Defence presence in their town.
“Ingham has supported a number of Defence exercises over the years and they are really well accepted,” he said.
“Defence has to train and local shopkeepers have to trade so it’s a good result for everyone,” Mr Squires said.
CAPTION: Corporal Nathan Penrose of Force Sustainment Group provides security in the Tyto wetlands of Ingham, Queensland, during Exercise Talisman Sabre 2023.