The US and Australia on Friday launched the largest-ever iteration of their Talisman Sabre exercise as the US is increasingly focused on building alliances in the Asia Pacific against China.
The Talisman Sabre started in 2005 as a biennial exercise between the US and Australia. This year’s iteration involves participants from 11 other countries and over 30,000 military personnel.
US Navy Secretary Carlos Del Toro spoke at the opening ceremony on Friday and said the massive drills served as a warning to China. “The most important message that China can take from this exercise and anything that our allies and partners do together is that we are extremely tied by the core values that exist among our many nations together,” he said at a naval base in Sydney.
In a symbolic gesture to demonstrate the growing military ties between the US and Australia, the US on Saturday commissioned a naval vessel in Sydney, the USS Canberra, an Independence-class littoral combat ship. It marked the first time the US ever commissioned a US Navy ship was commissioned in a foreign port.
Del Toro has previously said that the US Navy envisions turning Australia into a full-service submarine hub for the US and its allies in the region under the AUKUS military pact that was signed between the US, Britain, and Australia in 2021 that will result in Canberra acquiring nuclear-powered submarines.
The US and Australia were joined in the Talisman Sabre exercises by militaries from Fiji, France, Indonesia, Japan, South Korea, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Tonga, Britain, Canada, and Germany. Personnel from the Philippines, Singapore, and Thailand are attending as observers.
The exercises involve live-fire drills and will conclude on August 4. A Chinese naval vessel was spotted surveilling the drills, which Australian military officials said have happened since 2017.