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People of the Pacific condemn Talisman Sabre Military Exercises

Groups from the Pacific region condemn the recent military exercises in Australia as damaging to the environment, health and peace in the region.

ABC Capricornia: Rachel McGee

After two weeks of high intensity combined forces training, the U.S. forward-deployed America Expeditionary Strike Group is moving again as Australia’s largest warfighting exercise, joint exercise Talisman Sabre 2021 (TS21), winds down.  

On July 24, at the height of Talisman Sabre, representatives from Pacific nations including Australia, New Zealand, Guahan (Guam), Hawaii (USA), Japan, Rep of Korea, West Papua and the Philippines called for an end to Talisman Sabre – and all exercises in the Pacific.

Their statements of concern and commitment to collaboration for peace in the Pacific can be heard here.

TS21 saw 17,000 U.S., Australian and allied troops engaging in combined land, sea and air manoeuvres inland and along the Queensland coast.   

This year’s exercise marked many firsts, among them:   

  •  The first year the ADF did not engage in Public Environment Report
  • South Korea participating in Talisman Sabre for the first time, sending a destroyer. Japan, U.K., Canada, New Zealand also participated, with France, Germany, India and Indonesia present as observers. 
  • U.S. forward deployed Expeditionary Strike Group. America, part of the 7th Fleet, joining the exercise.   
  • The first use of U.S. Patriot missiles in Talisman Sabre – reportedly the first use in the Southern Hemisphere.
  • First involvement of U.S.F-35B fighter jets and to integrate non-US aircraft into HIMARS system. 
  • First to use regional township of Hughenden and to activate RAAF Base RAAF Base Scherger in Queensland’s far north, Cape York near Weipa. 

Robin Taubenfeld spokesperson for Friends of the Earth Australia and Pacific Peace Network member group said: “The Pacific Peace Network condemns Talisman Sabre. At this time of global health and climate crisis, there is no justification for ongoing investment in war or increased military activity. We call for the Pacific to be honoured for its name; rather than as a stage for sabre rattling, it should be a region of peace. ”

“2021 was a year for many notable firsts for Talisman Sabre. Though smaller in size, the exercise targeted a greater number of defence and non-defence areas and used more lethal firepower than previous exercises. If this is the down-sized version of Talisman Sabre, we are alarmed at what post-pandemic iterations of the exercise might bring.” 

“2021 was the first year the ADF did not engage in the Public Environment Report (PER) process around the exercise, despite its spread into regional locations and numerous non-defence areas."

"The ramping up of firepower, the spreading of activity to Queensland’s northernmost region and the increased number of participating nations sends a clear message of U.S. allied strength to China." “With tensions mounting in the South China Sea, allied governments may spruik the benefits of interoperability with the U.S.”

“Many of their constituents and people around the Pacific, however, have grave concerns about the increasing presence of U.S. troops and the social and environmental cost of ongoing militarism in the region and want to see these exercises cancelled.”

For more information or interviews:  

Robin Taubenfeld
Friends of the Earth spokesperson
Ph: 0411 118 737 
E: [email protected]

Annette Brownlie
Independent and Peaceful Australia Network
PH: 0431 597 256 
E: [email protected]

Friends of the Earth is a proud member of the Independent and Peaceful Australia Network.

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