Tandem Thrust 97 was held in and around the Shoalwater Bay Training Area in central Queensland during the period 10-22 March 1997. It was the first of it's biennial series to be exercised with Australia. The Exercise demonstrated the closeness of the military-to-military relationship between the U.S. and Australian Defence Forces by combining efforts to strengthen the alliance between the two countries to pursue common regional and international security objectives and contribute to the preservation of security and strategic stability in the region. The exercise demonstrated a variety of ADF and US military capabilities in a combined arms environment and test the capability of Australian and United States command and control procedures.
The exercise included airborne, air-mobile and amphibious assault, maritime, land and air manoeuvre, and significant maritime, ground and air activities. Approximately 21,500 U.S. personnel took part, of which several thousand came ashore into the Shoalwater Bay Training Area. Most remained at sea as part of the Carrier Battle Group and Amphibious Ready Group. As part of a Combined Task Force (CTF) headed by Commander Seventh Fleet, forces from Independence (CV 62) Carrier Battle Group, an Amphibious Ready Group built around the New Orleans (LPH 11), III MEF, and the 11th MEU(SOC) worked with other US and Australian forces on a short-warning crisis-action scenario. The exercise implemented USCINCPAC's cooperative engagement strategy and demonstrated U.S.-Australian cooperation. Approximately 5,700 Australian Defence Force members participated from all of the Defence Army, Navy and Air Force Commands.
The local communities benefited from the income generated by the influx of military and non-military personnel concerned with participating in and covering the event. The ADF sourced supplies from the local communities to facilitate the exercise and maintain good commercial and community relations. It is difficult to estimate how much money will be spent; during the 1997 Tandem Thrust exercise in Australia, estimated expenditures were more than 10.5 million U.S. dollars for goods and services by U.S. ships alone during their port calls.