From U.S. 7th Fleet Public Affairs
CAIRNS, Australia – 20,000 US and 8,000 Australian forces participated in the major biennial exercise Talisman Sabre 13 (TS13). While Chaplains have accompanied their units in past exercises, in this iteration they were fully integrated in the exercise program.
This was clearly evident as one observed the working of the combined joint task force staff, embarked in USS BLUE RIDGE, where both Senior Chaplain Collin Acton, RAN and CAPT John Shimotsu, USN served along with RPCS(SW) Tshombe Harris. Their five months of preparation and planning yielded noteworthy results over the ten days of the exercise.
Together and in concert with members of various staff working groups they negotiated a wide variety of challenging and realistic scenarios. Their grasp of similarities and differences in policy and procedures between the militaries of the United States and Australia helped them coordinate ministry across the combined joint force. It also provided an opportunity to see how chaplains relate to other staff elements and non-governmental organizations in a combined force construct.
This dynamic was replicated across the component commands in Queensland, Australia as well as Hawaii, and Washington State in the United States. The result is that military chaplains of both our nations are better equipped to work more effectively together at all levels of command to meet the religious needs of our Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, and Marines.