The Northern Territory has begun welcoming US Marines for the latest annual troop rotation, with this year’s iteration including the deployment of US Army personnel.
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The first wave of US Marines have landed in RAAF Base Darwin for the 2022 Marine Rotational Force – Darwin (MRF-D), scheduled to run until October.
This year’s contingent will be made up of personnel from the 1st Marine Expeditionary Force, based at Camp Pendleton in southern California.
For the first time in the history of the rotation — which enters its 11th year since the establishment of the bilateral defence arrangement — approximately 2,200 Marines will be supported by US Army personnel.
Together, the US troops are expected to engage in combined training with the Australian Defence Force.
This is set to include crisis response exercises and engagement with regional partners for multinational interop ability training.
Commanding Officer Headquarters Northern Command, Colonel Marcus Constable said that the rotation would build on the success of the 2021 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 co-operation 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 [activities] better position our forces to respond to crises in the region.”
MRF-D Commanding Officer Colonel Christopher Steele welcomed the opportunity to further strengthen the United States’ defence partnership with Australia.
“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,” he said.
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.”
The MRF-D forms part of the United States Force Posture Initiatives, which also include Enhanced Air Cooperation between the Royal Australian Air Force and US Air Force.
The arrival of the 2022 MRF-D comes amid the commissioning of preliminary work to construct a new fuel storage facility in Darwin, expected to hold up to 300 million litres of fuel to support the transfer, management and storage of military specification jet fuels used by US forces.
A US delegation, led by US Indo-Pacific Command’s Director for Logistics and Engineering, Brigadier General Jered Helwig, has also visited bases and facilities in Australia to advance commitments announced following the Australian-US Ministerial Consultations (AUSMIN) 2021.
These commitments included the establishment of combined logistics, sustainment, and maintenance enterprise to support high end warfighting and combined military operations in the region.
[Related: Top End receives $282m defence boost]