United States (US) Marines have begun arriving in the Northern Territory to commence the eleventh annual rotation of the Marine Rotational Force – Darwin (MRF-D).
The 2022 MRF-D will see up to 2200 US personnel conduct combined training with the Australian Defence Force (ADF) including crisis response exercises and engagement with regional partners.
This year, for the first time, US Army personnel will deploy to work alongside and support the MRF-D.
Commanding Officer Headquarters Northern Command, Colonel Marcus Constable said that the rotation would build on the success of last year’s deployment which coincided with the 70th anniversary of the Australia, New Zealand, and United States (ANZUS) treaty.
“Australia’s alliance with the United States is our most important defence relationship and is central to Australia’s strategic and security arrangements,” he said.
“The MRF-D is a key way we increase regional cooperation with partners in the Indo Pacific and deepen interoperability between the ADF and the US Marine Corps.”
“Together we conduct a comprehensive range of training activities including humanitarian assistance, security operations and high-end live fire exercises. These better position our forces to respond to crises in the region,” Colonel Constable said.
MRF-D Commanding Officer Colonel Christopher Steele said it was an honour to build upon the continuing legacy of the US – Australia Alliance.
“This year our Marines will be coming from Camp Pendleton in Southern California as the 1st Marine Expeditionary Force assumes this mission, working alongside our US Army and Australian Defence Force counterparts,” Colonel Steele said.
“We are excited to serve as the first regimental headquarters to lead MRF-D, and integrate two highly capable and interoperable forces that advance our shared goals, demonstrate the strength and endurance of our alliance, and contribute to regional security.
“Being able to continue MRF-D rotations while making the necessary adjustments to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic is a testament to the alliance relationship and the discipline of our forces,” Colonel Steele said.
Defence assures that the procedures for managing MRF-D’s arrival, border entry protocols and possible cases of COVID-19 have been developed and agreed in full consultation with NT Health authorities and will strictly adhere to all Australian Government requirements to mitigate the risk of COVID-19.
The US Marines are expected to complete the rotation in Australia in October 2022.
MRF-D is one of the United States Force Posture Initiatives that sits alongside an expanded program of Enhanced Air Cooperation between the Royal Australian Air Force and United States Air Force.