Minister Payne; Commanding General of US Marine Corps Forces, Pacific, Lieutenant General David Berger; and Chief of Army Designate, Major General Rick Burr, visited members of the Australian Defence Force and the Marine Rotational Force Darwin at Robertson Barracks this week.
Minister Payne received briefings on this year’s US Force Posture Initiatives, observed M777 howitzer artillery training and a virtual training simulation, and met informally with soldiers and marines.
The minister said the Marine Rotational Force Darwin represents an important component of Australia’s broader alliance co-operation with the US.
"LtGen Berger and I discussed the continued importance of regional engagement between the ADF, Marine Rotational Force Darwin, and regional partners such as the Philippines, Japan and Timor-Leste,” Minister Payne said.
"As Secretary [of Defense James] Mattis and I emphasised at the Shangri La Dialogue last week, the peace and security generated by the United States’ presence in this region for the past 70 years has paid dividends.
"The MRF-D is an essential ingredient in preserving stability and security in the region. Last month in New Caledonia I viewed first-hand the ADF and MRF-D rehearsing humanitarian and disaster response alongside Tongan, New Zealand and French forces in Exercise Croix du Sud."
This latest rotational deployment of US Marines is the largest and most complex rotation to date.
"LtGen Berger, MAJGEN Burr and I were able to see first-hand the new capabilities the MRF-D has brought to Darwin through a combined training exercise using Australian and US M777 howitzers," Minsiter Payne said.
"We also had the opportunity to view the advanced technologies that are being utilised by the ADF and MRF-D with the Digital Terminal Control Suite flat screen training simulation."
LtGen Berger thanked Minister Payne and the ADF for hosting MRF-D.
"The 2018 rotation provides the US Marine Corps, the ADF and other partners and allies with an exceptional opportunity to develop relationships and build shared military capabilities,” LtGen Berger said.
"This will strengthen regional security co-operation and response to potential crises throughout the Indo-Pacific.
"The US Marine Corps is committed to promoting common security interests throughout the region, and continuing our tradition of more than 100 years of global partnership – 'Mateship' – between Australia and the United States of America."
During the six-month training period, the Marines are expected to participate in 15 training activities alongside the ADF.
While in Australia the US Marines also dedicate many hours volunteering in local communities, including committing personnel and resources to the clean-up of Tropical Cyclone Marcus earlier this year.