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Talisman Sabre and U.S. Alliances in Action

Updated: Apr 1

As the Talisman Sabre exercise wrapped up in August, it served as a reminder of the strength of international alliances. The exercise marks a two-week-long demonstration of joint military forces and the interoperability of allied nations.

The Talisman Sabre consists of a variety of large-scale logistics and amphibious assault training operations, as well as multinational firepower demonstrations and field training exercises. These combined efforts, while merely an exercise between nations, stand as a clear demonstration of deterrence and a warning to countries with unsavory plans on the global scale. Many involved agree that a realistic and dynamic training environment is critical for preparing to win in the next conflict. 

Shared experiences of partnership among key allies are a vital aspect of the exercise, promoting the success of the joint forces. With the overarching goal of Talisman Sabre being the effectiveness of joint operations for any contingency down the road, the exercise is highly effective as a deterrence strategy. Not only does it send a message about the security of the Indo-Pacific: it serves as a reminder of the power of allied forces. 

Deterrence is vital in the face of increasing conflict. With new points of contention, such as resource and scarcity wars, civil war spillover and conflict from climate crises, alliances must remain strong and partnerships close. 

Deterrence in the current global realm is taking on different forms, with “proximity deterrence” being key in the Russo-Ukrainian conflict. With NATO territories so close to Ukrainian borders, Russian troops and offensive moves avoid these nations and areas of Ukraine that stand close by (hence “proximity” deterrence).

Additionally, with nations’ interests increasingly veiled, deterrence seems to be an active solution for international threats without being a dangerous, preventative measure. It's a show of force, not a declaration of war. In many cases, it's likely to promote diplomatic stability 

For instance, the current actions of Vietnam planning a Russian arms deal in the face of U.S. sanctions create increased discord in the international arena. With an increase in arms in Vietnam and the involvement of an aggressor nation in the Indo-Pacific, Talisman Sabre is vital to stand as an indicator of the strength of allied nations. With contentions already elevated in the international community, the exercise is not a threat, but a reminder of the strength of joint military operability.

Some may argue for a more isolationist approach and claim that this reliance on deterrence is too interventionist. However, the training and interoperability achieved during Talisman Sabre is an effort towards cooperative alliances and does not directly cause the U.S. to intervene in foreign affairs. It allows partnerships to be strengthened and the U.S. military to remain strong without interventionist policy. 

For those who worry that tensions are already too high, especially in China-Taiwan relations, Talisman Sabre may seem like an overly aggressive tactic. America wants to support Taiwan without causing a war with China. This is a tough diplomatic rope on which to balance. Yet, the U.S. needs to maintain alliances and ensure their effectiveness: not to cause conflict, but to be prepared if intervention becomes necessary. It is important to note that the Talisman Sabre isn't a frequent event, but rather a joint military operation taking place every other year in Australia or the U.S., which limits the amount of pressure put on neighboring nations. 

Should we stand by as Chinese and Russian motives become more alarming and insidious, or maintain our distance while preparing for involvement, whether for the support of other NATO countries and allies or our own defense? Talisman Sabre is a great example of staying separate from foreign conflicts while keeping our stance in the global field. 

Our nation has great diplomatic influence, with sprawling foreign interests and affairs. Given the state of much of the world, taking a step back from military strength could have dire repercussions in many areas. Thus, without direct involvement in international affairs, the U.S. must maintain partnerships and continue to be prepared globally. Exercises like Talisman Sabre are key in furthering this preparedness while simultaneously acting as a form of deterrence against possible future conflicts, all without causing any direct conflicts or getting involved in pre-existing ones.

Effective diplomacy is by far the most pertinent method for foreign policy, however, the U.S. needs to maintain alliances with Australia and other nations, not only to increase the functionality of military interoperability but also to set an example for global security.

The opinions expressed in this article are those of the individual author.

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