DOWN THE BARREL: A soldier looks down his gun for any prospective enemies in the area.
DOWN THE BARREL: A soldier looks down his gun for any prospective enemies in the area. Jordan Gilliland

Like a movie as military storms town

IT WAS a scene reminiscent of a Hollywood movie as Bowen was taken over by defence personnel on Monday.

Over 900 troops, tens of military vehicles and helicopter air support descended on Bowen, as part of Exercise Talisman Sabre 2019, as they fought an 'unknown militia force' in the town.

The exercise, which had been over two years in the making, began on Kings Beach where a series of amphibious vehicles lead a charge on to the beach.

About 120 Australian soldiers took part in the Bowen training exercise, with the rest of the 900 made up of the United States and Japanese defence force, and a small United Kingdom outfit of about 40 people.

A large crowd of onlookers amassed on the day at a public viewing area on the beach, to watch the landing from afar as vehicles exited.

The Japanese Army was the first to land, acting to secure the beach and provide initial reconnaissance.


SUCCESS: US Colonel Jeffrey Gottlieb said that the Bowen training exercise has been a great success.
SUCCESS: US Colonel Jeffrey Gottlieb said that the Bowen training exercise has been a great success. Jordan Gilliland

Following the Japanese landing, United States and Australian defence personnel stormed the beach ready to clear Prokamirian - the fictitious enemy - from four locations around the town.

Australian Defence Force Exercise Operations Officer, Colonel Stuart Kenny said that the amphibious raid and subsequent military exercise was intended to be a quick and short operation.

"We've had military forces on the ground in Bowen for the last week, and they had identified the four safehouses where the enemy force is," Colonel Kenny said.

"These raids are designed for our troops to be on the ground for as short a time as possible, as you don't want your most mobile and flexible troops, those based at sea, to be stuck on land.

"We didn't encounter any resistance in the amphibious landing as we had a reconnaissance team land in darkness on the beach the night before to scope out the area."

Many locals were treated to an army exercise in their front yard as troops spread out across the town once the amphibious landing was complete.

The defence personnel mobilised to capture four locations across Bowen; Bowen Airport, Bowen Sporting Complex, Bowen Cokeworks and the Bowen Showgrounds.

Many residents were seen communicating and engaging with the military forces, with some enjoying tours of the defence vehicles on show.

Colonel Kenny said that Bowen and the North Queensland region had been extremely accommodating to the defence force.

"We really want to thank the people of Bowen for letting us do this exercise here, it's been a great location and everyone has been very supportive.

"Whitsunday Regional Council were kind enough to let us run this exercise, and for that we thank them.

"On top of that, the Bowen police and Mackay police who have aided us today were phenomenal in reducing potential risks and ensuring safety."

Colonel Jeffrey Gottlieb, Exercise Chief for the United States Indo-Pacific Command who oversees the success and operability of the exercise, said that he had spent 2 years planning the event to great success.

"The logistics of getting all of these soldiers and equipment to Australia is not small, so even though the task is only planned days beforehand, we plan the exercise for years,

"I have been extremely pleased with how this operation has run. The landings took place almost exactly on time, and everything has been incredibly synchronised.

"I have done 3 tours of Germany and been involved in NATO exercises and I would say that this has been as good, or better, than those.

"Everything people saw in Bowen wasn't set up to look good. This is exactly how it would be.

"I've spent a week in Bowen and I've been amazed by the hospitality we've been given."

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