U.S. Marines have completed the eighth iteration of Marine Rotational Force – Darwin (MRF-D), a six-month rotation of Marines in Australia’s Northern Territory, according to a recent service news release.
The U.S. Marines that comprised the 2019 rotation have departed Australia and returned to their home stations or have gone to Okinawa, Japan to participate in other training activities.
“This year’s rotation was a tremendous success,” said U.S. Marine Col. Russ Boyce, commanding officer for MRF-D. “We executed more than a dozen bilateral and multilateral training activities at locations across the entirety of Northern Australia and throughout the region with neighboring partners and allies. These activities enhanced our combined capabilities, and ultimately improved our ability to respond to crises as a united, international team.”
MRF-D is designed to increase interoperability with the Australian Defence Force, engage with regional partners and allies, and provide a forward-deployed force capable of responding to crisis within the Indo-Pacific region.
One of the most significant achievements during the rotation was the employment of the entire Marine Air-Ground Task Force and integrated Australian Defence Forces during the culminating activity, Exercise Koolendong, according to Boyce. Koolendong demonstrated the combined Australia and U.S. readiness to respond to high-end threats, in addition to achieving considerable interoperability objectives.
During the 2019 rotation, MRF-D Marines trained and lived alongside service members from Indonesia, Japan, France, New Zealand, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Timor-Leste, Tonga and Vietnam, in addition to hosting international military observers.
“We conducted a number of international engagements with partners and allies from all across the Indo-Pacific region. It was refreshing for our Marines to experience the enthusiasm our partners share for training together, the desire to share techniques and procedures – and most importantly the opportunity to forge interpersonal relationships. We were certainly privileged to participate in these engagements and cannot overemphasize the importance of sustaining such opportunities,” said Boyce.
This year’s rotation achieved an important milestone of the U.S. Force Postures Initiatives by reaching the 2,500 personnel goal, which was established in the U.S and Australia Force Posture Agreement.
Future rotations will be similarly structured, again including all elements of a MAGTF, and will allow for Australian and U.S. planners to include additional units and equipment that provide unique capabilities designed to best support strategic objectives set forth in the USFPI.
As perennial guests in the Top End, MRF-D Marines remained committed to giving back to host communities. During the 2019 rotation, MRF-D Marines and Sailors participated in 20 community engagements, volunteering over 1,400 hours with community organizations.
The Marine Corps’ rotational presence reflects the enduring Australia-U.S. alliance and common security interests in the region.