WASHINGTON — The Army is hoping progress made at Talisman Sabre, the joint U.S.-Australian exercise this summer, could open doors for it to position more equipment in the Indo-Pacific region.
The service sees expanding its pre-positioned equipment in the area as part of its contribution to deterring China.
And the Army made headway this summer when it was permitted to permanently keep three company sets of equipment in Australia following Talisman Sabre, Gen. Charles Hamilton, Army Materiel Command commander, told Defense News in an interview ahead of the Association of the U.S. Army’s annual conference.
The sets are considered pre-positioned stock, which means they consist of equipment kept at a high readiness level so they are ready to go for exercises or operations, he said.
“I would suspect that in the future, as we get more resources, we can get more equipment. That will become something that we can do with other great allies and partners as well,” Hamilton added.
The Army is still using exercises throughout the region to learn more about where it might make sense to leave equipment and what types and how much equipment should be included, he said.
Maj. Gen. Jered Helwig, the Army’s 8th Theater Sustainment Command commander, in an interview during the Talisman Sabre exercise said it the Army was granted approval to leave equipment in Australia around the time the exercise began.
Pre-positioning the equipment there, Helwig said, will “help us develop into Pathways exercises, really look at how you set up the ability to hold that equipment in places like Australia, [including] the maintenance and supply transactions that need to happen, so we can export those lessons learned to other exercises.”
Operation Pathways is a large exercise meant to assess Army capability in the Indo-Pacific region and the service’s connectivity to joint forces and allies and partners.
Talisman Sabre included 13 participating countries and over 35,000 service members, Helwig said. He said it was an unprecedented opportunity to assess large-scale logistics and sustainment capabilities for the U.S. Army.
The exercise included a joint logistics over-the-shore exercise where the Army took 17 M1 Abrams tanks off its Army Pre-positioned Stock Afloat ship and onto watercraft as well as 400 pieces of rolling stock, which had never been exercised at that size in the theater.
And the service built a 3-mile pipeline from the shore to an airfield in less than 48 hours. Setting the conditions to build took about two weeks, Helwig said. The Army pumped water through the system due to Australia’s environmental concerns, but normally in an operation the pipeline would be used to transfer fuel.
Talisman Sabre “gave us an opportunity to see how a joint force works in real time, how they order supplies, how they issue to the different services, etc.,” Hamilton said. “But the process was working very well for the Australian joint force.”
Jen Judson is an award-winning journalist covering land warfare for Defense News. She has also worked for Politico and Inside Defense. She holds a Master of Science degree in journalism from Boston University and a Bachelor of Arts degree from Kenyon College.