US Marines and Australian soldiers fire an M777 howitzer during Exercise Talisman Saber in the Shoalwater Bay training area in Queensland, Australia, July 17, 2021. (Ujian Gosun / US Marine Corps)
U.S. Marines and soldiers are in the Australian state of Queensland to practice skills that could prevent enemy warships from accessing Pacific waters during conflict.
A task force gunner, led by 3rd Battalion, 12th Marine Regiment based in Okinawa, provides fire support to 17,000 US, Australian, New Zealand, Japanese, South Korean and British troops during the Talisman Saber biennium in Australia this month.
The task force includes the Marine Corps and Army High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems, or HIMARS, and M777 towed howitzers from the Marine Corps and the Australian Army, the commander of the Australian Army said on Tuesday. Battalion, Lt. Col. Roe Lemons, by telephone from Bundaberg, Australia.
Gunners can fire at targets up to 155 miles from their positions but cover an even larger area thanks to a Royal Australian Air Force C-17 Globemaster II and a pair of 1st Marine Corps C-130J Super Hercules aircraft. Marine Aircraft Wing over Okinawa, Lemons said.
The planes carry US and Australian weapons and troops between remote bases across Queensland, he said, adding that the gunners’ area of operations spanned a coastline as long as the state of Florida. , Lemons said.
U.S. Marines and soldiers fire high mobility artillery rocket systems during Exercise Talisman Saber in the Shoalwater Bay training area in Queensland, Australia, July 18, 2021 (Alyssa Chuluda / US Marine Corps)
Expeditionary base operations, in which Marines get up and operate from outposts away from established facilities, is something the Marines have been practicing for a year, he said.
“In Okinawa, we are in the adversary’s weapons engagement zone,” Lemons said.
As recently as 2017, the North Koreans fired a ballistic missile at northern Japan and tested an intercontinental ballistic missile that experts believed capable of hitting the Americas.
That same year, Google Earth images revealed that China, which has a vast arsenal of missiles, was firing them at targets configured to resemble US bases in Japan.
“We are working to establish small expeditionary bases where we can use our assets like HIMARS to outlaw the sea and control the sea,” Lemons said.
US and Australian troops are preparing to defend against any Chinese effort to invade the island chain that stretches from Japan to Taiwan and the Philippines, according to Ross Babbage, Australia’s former deputy defense secretary.
Allied artillery can target ships at sea and can be coordinated with planes and ships to ensure the optimal weapon engages a given target, he said in a telephone interview on Tuesday.
Units of less than 150 Marines in hidden bases will be hard to find for the Chinese, Babbage said.
The Marines in Australia camouflage their equipment and operate with a minimal electronic signature to make it more difficult for an opposing force, played by the Australian military, to find them, Lemons said.
On Sunday, the task force demonstrated its firepower in the Shoalwater Bay training area in Queensland, firing numerous rounds from HIMARS and howitzers in coordination with naval fire from the guided-missile destroyer USS Rafael Peralta, Royal Australian Air Force F / A-18 Super Hornet 1000-pound bomb-dropping jets and Marine Corps Huey and Cobra helicopters detonating cannons and rockets, Lemons said.
On Monday, the Marines fired a GPS guided rocket at an offshore island with the impact observed using an Australian Shadow drone, he said.