Address at Talisman Sabre 2021 Opening Ceremony, RAAF Base Amberley

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The Hon Peter Dutton MP

Minister for Defence

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14 July 2021

Ladies and gentlemen, it’s a great honour to be here with you today. Thank you very much Group Captain for your acknowledgement of Country, for your very warm welcome to all of us here today. This is a very significant event and I’m very pleased to be amongst so many friends. Thank you very much for your hospitality. 

I would like to acknowledge the Chief of the Defence Force, General Angus Campbell. To representatives from the Australian Defence Force and the Department of Defence. To all of those serving in uniform and those who serve our country – either today or have done in the past – we acknowledge your service to the security and the safety of our country.

To our many foreign dignitaries, defence attaches, our military advisers from Canada, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Japan, the Republic of Korea, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, and the United States.

Thank you very much to our Ambassadors and High Commissioners for being here today; for your support, for your friendship and for your leadership here in our country.

I also acknowledge the state parliamentary representative, James Madden, as well as the Mayor of Ipswich, Teresa Harding. To members of the Australian law enforcement community. To distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen.

It is a very significant event and quite a remarkable occasion on which we gather here today, particularly given the realities of COVID.

Later this year we commemorate two important events associated with the Alliance between Australia and the United States. In September, the 70th anniversary of the signing of the ANZUS treaty and then in November, the 10th Anniversary of the announcement of US Force Posture Initiatives with Australia.

For Australians and Americans alike, each occasion will be a time when we reflect on our Alliance, on what our nations have achieved in times of war and in times of peace. Our collaboration has endured, regardless of the times. Our partnership has been steadfast, regardless of the political colours of the leaders who have occupied the White House and The Lodge.

The value of our Alliance has been extolled by Presidents and Prime Ministers, past and present, but it is the actions of uniformed and civilian Australians and Americans who continue to exemplify our Alliance cooperation. Civilians in our defence, our security and intelligence agencies, working together to keep us safe.

Employees, engineers and manufacturers in our defence supply chains, building together. Scientists and technicians in our institutes and universities, innovating together, and our finest men and women in military uniform, training and deploying together. 

Exercise Talisman Sabre is yet another example of our Alliance cooperation.

It is Australia’s biggest military exercise with the United States.  Having been conducted across Northern Australia biennially since 2005, the exercise is now in its ninth year.

But Talisman Sabre goes beyond bilateral collaboration. It is testimony to a broader depth of military relationships. This year’s exercise will see forces from Canada, Japan, the Republic of Korea, New Zealand, and the United Kingdom all take part, embedded in those of Australia and the United States.

Moreover, military officers from France, Germany, India, and Indonesia – great friends of our country – will observe the exercise. In all, some 17,000 personnel will participate, including more than 8,000 from the Australian Defence Force.

Over the next 18 days, they will engage in multiple warfighting training scenarios. The activities will be land, sea and air based, and also importantly involve cyber and space capabilities. That is, conducted in, on, and across multiple domains – to test and improve combined force operations.

The vast majority of international forces will undertake activities exclusively offshore. The pandemic may have affected the scale of Talisman Sabre 2021, but it has not weakened our resolve to proceed with the exercise.

I want to very sincerely commend the Australian and United States military planners.  It does speak volumes that regardless of the challenges thrown at us, we will continue to train and exercise in our region. 

I want to acknowledge the support provided by the Governments of Queensland, New South Wales, and the Northern Territory, including from local authorities to ensure the health and safety of participants and local communities. 

I particularly want to thank those Australians who live near the inland and coastal training areas. You may see a few military vehicles on nearby roads, or hear indeed be interrupted by aircraft noise and gun fire during exercises.

But Australians understand the need for our defence forces to be ready and be prepared for any eventuality.

Talisman Sabre is an opportunity to do many things: to strengthen interoperability between participating forces, to bolster our shared ability to conduct cooperative defence activities with countries in our region and to enhance our collective combat readiness for complex operations.

Ladies and gentlemen, today we are faced with strategic circumstances which have echoes of the 1930s, but which also present their own unique contemporary challenges. The 11 nations participating in, and observing Exercise Talisman Sabre speaks to a shared purpose: to preserve an absolutely necessary peace. A peace which has, and continues to drive humanity forward for the benefit of us all.

Through military preparedness, we bolster our collective capabilities – and  our determination – to deter the most egregious forms of coercion and aggression which threaten that peace and through military preparedness, we also hone our collective readiness to respond to the direst contingencies, should they be realised.  

As the Minister for Defence, it is my great privilege to be here today to address you at the commencement of Exercise Talisman Sabre 2021.

To all of those participating: train hard, work well together, emerge even better prepared – it’s in our country’s best interests and in the interests of our closest allies and partners and friends who are represented here today.  

Thank you very much. 


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