US-Australia war games feared to
harm Barrier Reef Marine Park
14 May, 2007: Australia’s Defence
Department has sought to allay fears
expressed by environmentalists that a
joint Australia-United States military
exercise to be held across northern
Australia in June 2007 will harm the
The major, joint Australia-United
States training exercise – named
Talisman Sabre 2007 – will be held
throughout June at defence sites in
Townsville, Shoalwater Bay near
Rockhampton and at Delamare and
Bradshaw in the Northern Territory.
The biennial exercise will involve
about 7,500 Australian soldiers and up
to 20,000 United States troops and
According to Brigadier David McKaskill,
Commandant of the Australian Defence
Force Warfare Centre, the joint
operation would involve tanks,
aircraft and nuclear-powered aircraft
carriers and submarines. The exercise,
Brigadier McKaskill adds, is an
opportunity for both the Australian
and US military forces to practise
“high-end war fighting right through
to looking after humanitarian
Almost three-quarters of the United
States troops taking part in the
exercise will be based in Australia’s
Coral Sea during the event.
Australia’s Defence officials have
confirmed that submarines would enter
the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park
during the exercise, but insisted that
the reef was in no danger of being
damaged by military activity.
The submarines will be operating as
part of the American carrier group and
they will be abiding by the
environmental and legal requirements,”
Brigadier David McKaskill said. He
promised that minimising the
environmental impact is one of the
Defence force’s top priorities and
that environment and safety are the
two biggest issues.
The Australian Defence Force has spent
a sizeable amount of money to secure
the military training fields to be
used during the operation after a
Greenpeace anti-nuclear activist
entered an exclusion zone during the
Talisman Sabre exercise in 2005.
Australia’s peace activists and
environmental activists are getting
ready for a national protest action to
oppose the joint military exercise.
They are planning a ‘peace train’ to
travel to the east coast in June.
The National Peace Convergence will
hold a weekend of protest events at
Shoalwater Bay from June 22.