Troops visit Gladstone for joint operation

By ALLAN McNEILallanm@gladstoneobserver.com.au

UP TO 140 troops will converge on Gladstone in June for a joint Australian and US Defence Force operation.

Operation Talisman Sabre 2005 will include more than 17,000 troops in total in the Shoalwater Bay training area.

Similar operations are held in the area every two years, with a proportion of troops setting up camp in Gladstone for the duration. In January, a defence force spokesperson said there was a chance the operation may have to be postponed or scaled down because of the pressure placed on Australian troops due to the tsunami disaster.

'In light of the current and predicted level of commitment to our regional neighbours, in response to the devastation caused by the Boxing Day tsunami, the level of participation by the Australian Defence Force in this exercise is currently under review,' the spokesperson said.

However, it was confirmed yesterday that the operation would go ahead, with minimal impact.

'At the moment there has been minimal impact on the operation,' a defence spokesperson said.

Gladstone Chamber of Commerce president Ron Streeter said the troops would bring huge benefits to local businesses.

Mr Streeter said businesses such as cafes, pubs and clubs in particular would increase their business, with the US troops in particular.

'Well that should definitely see the cafes and T-shirt shops pick up,' he said.

The troops to be staged in Gladstone will be made up of 60 Australian and 80 US land personnel.

There will also be some navy vessels docked in the port area during the operation. Operation Talisman Sabre will run from June 11 to 29.



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