Australia and the United States launched their biggest joint war games on Monday, with 27,500 troops backed by a US aircraft carrier engaging in exercises aimed at consolidating the allies' military dominance in the Asia Pacific region.
The biennial Talisman Sabre exercise pits 20,000 US troops and 7,500 Australian forces against two fictional enemies - the Kamarians and Musorians - in a variety of land and sea-based scenarios designed to test their skills in combat, peacekeeping and humanitarian relief efforts.
The exercise, which runs until July 2, will also include 10 US ships, 20 Australian ships and 125 aircraft operating off the coast of Rockhampton in northeastern Queensland state.
The exercise comes as the United States and Japan step up efforts to build a joint missile defense system in Asia, partly as a bulwark against regional threats.
Australia, a steadfast US ally that maintains around 2,000 troops in Afghanistan and Iraq, is studying whether to participate in the defense shield, Defense Minister Brendan Nelson announced this month.
Canberra is expanding its military personnel to 30,500 troops from 27,500, and ramping up other defense capabilities as part of an overhaul to take greater responsibility for Asian security.
Japan plans to send observers to the Talisman Sabre operation, Crowder said, but would not expand on what role they might play in the exercise. Australia and Japan signed a security agreement in March that will enable Japanese forces to train alongside Australians for disaster relief and peacekeeping missions, and boost cooperation between the two countries in counterterrorism measures and intelligence sharing.
(China Daily via agencies June 19, 2007)