Australian Army soldiers and US Marines from the Marine Rotational Force-Darwin (MRF-D) have completed Exercise Koolendong, a live-fire, high-end warfighting exercise in the Northern Territory.
The exercise was conducted at Mount Bundey Training Area from 21 to 29 August in order to “enhance readiness, increase interoperability and strengthen regional partnerships”.
Minister for Defence Linda Reynolds said the annual, bilateral exercise demonstrates the commitment of the US and the Australian Defence Force (ADF) in promoting common security interests in the Indo-Pacific.
“This year’s Exercise Koolendong is the largest and most capable to date, reflecting the ability of our two nations to plan and execute complex, large-scale activities together,” Minister Reynolds said.
About 1,500 US Marines participated in the exercise, including three infantry companies, an artillery battery, aircraft from the Aviation Combat Element and units from the Logistics Combat Element, as well as a High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS) platoon, which took part for the first time.
ADF participants included an artillery battery from 1st Brigade’s 8th/12th Regiment, an Infantry company from 7th Brigade’s 8th/9th Battalion and Tiger Armed Reconnaissance Helicopters from 1st Aviation Regiment.
The exercise also included a platoon of soldiers from France’s New Caledonian Armed Forces and military observers from regional partners, including Indonesia, Malaysia, Papua New Guinea, the Philippines, Sri Lanka and New Zealand.
“One of the strategic objectives of the MRF-D is to increase engagement opportunities with partners and allies, and Koolendong displayed the benefits of regional cooperation in addressing shared security challenges,” Minister Reynolds said.