Author Topic: Talisman Saber 2009  (Read 2896 times)

Offline saifoda

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Talisman Saber 2009
« on: June 15, 2009, 02:46:07 PM »
Hey guys, new to the forum here, this will hopefully be my first major post/thread.  I'm not sure if this is the right section to start this thread in, so if it's not I apologize for that, it just seemed like the most applicable.

This July my unit (160th Infantry Regiment [L]) will be taking part in a "wargames" operation called Talisman Saber, in Shoalwater, Australia.  Our unit has been charged with defending 5 km of beach and the 19 km of marshland behind it (95 sq km) from the 31st MEU (Marine Expeditionary Unit) supported by elements of the 5th Fleet.  Because we are light Infantry our biggest assets are M240B machine guns and possibly some AT-4's (I heard rumors of javelins, but who knows) and we are facing an MEU.  For those who don't know basically it has everything under the sun for assets -- helo's, fighters, AFV's, M1's, everything...not to mention about 1,500 or so Marines.

All the wargames I have participated in previously have mostly been either force on force or train-ups at mob sites (camp shelby, some forsaken place in Idaho I can't remember the name of, etc...) so they have mostly been useful for TTP's and training methods in regards to survivalism and preparedness, but this coming training event I believe will give me a unique insight into insurgency and guerilla warfare, as that is the only way our unit will be able to accomplish our mission (deny the enemy control of the AO and retain at least 85% strength).

I will post more on this as I find out more details and when I get back from training I'll share my experience and lessons from it as they are applicable to the community here.

Offline DeltaEchoVictor

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Re: Talisman Saber 2009
« Reply #1 on: June 15, 2009, 05:04:07 PM »
Hmm, I'm not sure this is the right board either, but the exercise sounds interesting so post away.

Do keep us in the loop, I'd like to hear the outcome.

Offline PistolWhipped

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Re: Talisman Saber 2009
« Reply #2 on: June 16, 2009, 04:06:14 PM »
Good luck saifoda, let us know how it goes.

Offline saifoda

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Re: Talisman Saber 2009
« Reply #3 on: July 12, 2011, 04:57:58 PM »
So do I get ultimate-necro award for this?  :-*

The whole AT lasted over a month, the actual operation on our end lasted about 23 days if I remember correctly.  Sorry it has taken me so long to get back with some words on this, lots of life happened in the interim, as I like to say.

Without getting into too much unnecessary detail, it basically went like this (prepare for run-on sentence):  Once we arrived in Australia, after 40 something hours of near-no-sleep travel, we went right into about 6 hours of safety and environmental briefings, and spent the following 3 days at Camp Rocky consolidating equipment, personnel, blah blah Army stuff.  From there we went to a staging area in the SWTA (Shoal Water Training Area, if I remember the acronym correctly) where we spent the better part of a week at ranges and lots of sergeant-time training.  Once we finally got the word that we would begin the actual operation, we packed up to live in the field for nearly a month, and trucked out to the area we were assigned to conduct guerilla operations in.

Our battalion had the mission of defending the ground from the Marines, which included the beach, marshlands, roads, hills, and (most importantly) town and air field.  One company was assigned to defend the town, the other two, (yep, only 3 companies were present) including mine, were sent out to disrupt the enemy on the roads leading to the town and air field from the beaches, through the marshland.  Thankfully we'd gotten there before the rainy season, so the marshland wasn't so much a marshland as a slightly wet high desert...idk it was weird.  When we left for the field we were told we'd have 24 hours before the Marines landed; turns out it was more like 168ish hours.  So we spent the first day with no rest plan, and the next two days with only two hours a day rest.

First things first -- security, patrol base, classed supply items at separate cache points -- lots of walking, not much talking, and plenty of digging for everybody.  After we had our initial patrol base setup and the cache points digged and dugged we moved right into the mission at hand -- disrupting the enemy forces.

After three more days of waiting in ambushes that never happened we finally heard the distant roaring of helicopters, track vehicles, and pissed off sergeants.  They had finally landed, over 15 klicks away, and we still heard everything that was going on.  No advance party recon, no UAVs or spectres, and the helos only provided air cover.  THEN we spent a full day and the better part of two more (one on either end) hiding from the occasional blackhawk or cobra flying overhead.  Some of them got within a few dozen meters of us and still didn't spot us.

Finally, over a week into it, we got our first shot at it.  A Marine leg platoon was moving up the road.  We initiated the ambush with the 240 and followed on with rifle fire and sim-grenades (203 parachute rounds) and then broke contact.  We were in that AO for about 25 seconds, and caused 13 casualties, including 8 fatalities (all simulated of course).  No fire was returned.  We continued ambushing troops in the area for 18 days in a similar manner, with some variation -- emplacing fake minefields to ambush their engineers, initiating or following on with artillery, clever little differences like that.  Over those two and a half weeks we caused over a hundred enemy casualties.

Guess how many casualties we sustained....


No casualties on our side.  In fact, not even a single round was ever fired in return.

When I first wrote this post I thought I might find some little tricks and tactics about guerilla warfare or what have you, and maybe I have but I don't think it's worth posting about nearly as much as what I really found to be of, what I think is, use.

The fact of the matter is that we were Army.  And on top of being Army, we were National Guard.  These Marines had little to no respect for us as a fighting unit going into this operation, and on top of that, they were tired of fighting.  This MEU was full of Marines who had gotten back within 2-6 months of various deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan, and they were not in their organic units.  Morale and, as I like to say, "give-a-fuck" meter, was at a low.  At one point during the operation there was even a company that went after us in the field.  But they weren't really looking for us -- they were marching single file, heads down, and basically just going through the motions.  The only way I even spotted them was because I saw a weird blue thing seemingly floating through the trees, and when I looked closer I saw that it was a blue tarp that was tied on top of a Marine's ruck sack.  Everything else was MARPAT (which, I must say, is a FANTASTIC choice of camouflage) and I couldn't see an entire company, but I saw that little blue thing out of the corner of my eye.

The main points I took away from this are respect, not only for yourself, colleagues, peers, superiors, and subordinates, but respect for your enemy; something that has been written and talked about since Sun Tzu.  We were not taken seriously as an opposing force, and, outmanned and outgunned, we summarily kicked the crap out of a force that was far superior in every way, except for morale.  We were determined to win, to get good training, to "fight" as hard as we could and for as long as we could against an opfor that has traditionally been the elite fighting force of the world.

I guess that's all I really got on it.  Not that you need to hear this from me, but feel free to comment on this with your observations, personal experience, and questions.

Love, Carnie Princess