The Australian Amphibious Force (AAF) is one step closer to certification after completing Exercises Sea Explorer and Sea Raider. Conducted over four weeks at sea and ashore near Bowen and Shoalwater Bay, Queensland, the Sea Series of exercises builds the readiness of the AAF by integrating units from across the ADF to conduct large-scale amphibious operations. The series began with Exercise Sea Explorer, during which more than 1200 personnel, four helicopters, 101 vehicles, including a troop of M1A1 tanks, and three military working dogs embarked in HMA Ships Adelaide and Choules. Personnel practised the basic capabilities to manoeuvre, land and support forces from the sea to shore by helicopters and landing craft. Providing realistic scenarios to certify and develop the ADF’s amphibious capability, the Sea Series ensures the AAF can provide the Australian Government with the ability to rapidly deploy forces in response to a range of missions.
Commander Landing Force Colonel Douglas Pashley said,“There were fundamental difficulties building and maintaining the skills to effectively fight in littoral areas. This exercise has allowed us to build the readiness of the force – the latest chapter in the ADF’s amphibious journey. We have formed a strong joint and multinational team that is capable of cross-domain operations in Australia’s archipelagic environment. Whilst we have achieved real progress over the past few years, it is demanding and it requires regular and focused attention. The Sea Series has been an opportunity for our people to come together, establish trusting relationships, learn from each other, gain an appreciation for the littoral environment and to understand how each element can contribute to the objectives of the force across air, sea and land.”
Commander of the Amphibious Task Force Captain Phillipa Hay said,“It was important to maintain currency in such a complicated military environment. With such a large amphibious force being formed from across all three services, there are a lot of moving parts. The Sea Series of exercises allows us to continuously improve on previous years’ efforts, as well as continuing to sharpen our skills. Each individual plays a key role in the successful execution of amphibious operations, be they a sailor, soldier or aviator. I am privileged to co-command a force filled with the finest Australians who rise to the challenge.”
Exercise Sea Explorer was also the backdrop for this year’s major medical exercise – Hospex – which involved more than 40 clinicians, including doctors, surgeons, anaesthetists, dentists and pharmacists. Hospex included multiple casualty transfers from ship and shore via landing craft and helicopters, major mass-casualty incident response training, and the embarkation of a veterinarian and robotic dog to familiarise medical specialists with the unique requirements of caring for military working dogs in the maritime environment. Exercise Sea Raider exposed the force to a range of multifaceted challenges. The layered scenarios provided commanders and the task force with a variety of competing priorities. The force comprised various units and elements from across the Army, including more than 700 personnel and equipment from the 1st and 2nd Battalions, the Royal Australian Regiment, as well as elements from 17th Combat Service Support Brigade, and 16th Aviation Brigade. The AAF now pivots to Exercise Sea Master, nested within the overarching multinational Exercise Talisman Sabre.