American-Australian-Japanese defense ties are deepening daily. And to highlight this strengthening defense relationship, a battalion size force of 2,200 Marines will soon join Australian and Japanese troops in the Australian Outback in drills to coordinate artillery and air support with both manned and unmanned aircraft.
Stripes reports that Exercise Southern Jackaroo kicks off Tuesday and runs through June 24. “The purpose of the exercise is to increase the capacity to mutually support one another during joint operations,” said the Marine spokesman for the Marine Corps Rotational Force — Darwin. Stripes adds that:
The force of 2,200 Marines is twice the size of the one that deployed to Darwin for the annual six-month rotation last year as the coronavirus pandemic raged. A record 2,500 Marines were sent there in 2019.
Southern Jackaroo, which happens annually, reinforces cooperation across a range of military disciplines, including infantry, aviation, artillery, and combat engineer training, according to the head of Australia’s army, Lt. Gen. Rick Burr.
“The three forces will conduct complex activities coordinating artillery, unmanned aircraft systems and rotary wing assets,” he said in an army statement. “There is a lot to learn from our partners and this trilateral format allows us to better understand our respective capabilities. It also enables us to continue to work together and be ready to contribute to national and collective responses.”
But as Stripes reports, this Exercise Southern Jackaroo training is just the tip of the combined forces iceberg, and a prelude to Talisman Sabre, large-scale, multinational, biennial exercise involving 17,000 troops, mostly from the U.S. and Australia, beginning in late June and ending July 31.
Forces from Canada, Japan, South Korea, New Zealand, and the United Kingdom are also involved, while France, India and Indonesia will participate as observers.