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ADF, US Marines gear up for Exercise Koolendong

Department of Defence | Photo: Corporal Rodrigo Villablanca

Personnel are preparing for combat against a simulated enemy as part of the joint interoperability exercise.

Personnel are preparing for combat against a simulated enemy as part of the joint interoperability exercise.

Australian soldiers and US Marines and sailors of Marine Rotational Force – Darwin (MRF-D) are gearing up for Exercise Koolendong — a combined command construct operation in a fictitious contested area.


Located at Bradshaw Field Training Area, which has been temporarily renamed as Bradshaw Island for the purpose of the exercise, personnel will be tasked with destroying the fictitious enemy and handing over security responsibility to local forces, before redeploying to Darwin Island.

The exercise will provide personnel with an opportunity to rehearse expeditionary bilateral, joint warfighting in a simulated archipelagic region laid over the 6,600-square- kilometre location.

The operation will be led by Commander of the combined task force (CTF) Brigadier Ash Collingburn, who described the training as the “most integrated, realistic, high-end warfighting activity” conducted in MRF-D’s 10-year history.

The joint forces have been planning for the exercise over the past 12 months, with the final rehearsal of concept conducted and deployment orders issued in late July.

“Conducting this exercise at Bradshaw allows us to increase the complexity of our training, to incorporate US Marine aviation assets, challenge our logistic systems, and extend our medical support while integrating combined Australian and US assets at every level, including within the CTF Headquarters,” BRIG Collingburn said.


Approximately 1,500 Australian soldiers will train alongside roughly 1,500 US Marines ahead of their final activity during the 2021 rotation — a combined live-fire manoeuvre activity.

MRF-D Commanding Officer Colonel David Banning said the troops are equipped and ready to engage in the exercise.

“The planning phase is complete and we look forward to putting the plan into action as part of a combined force,” he said.

“…Operating from Bradshaw allows us to integrate the full range of US Marine Air-Ground Task Force capabilities as part of a CTF.

“For MRF-D, this exercise is the culminating event of a tangible demonstration of our ability to respond to any type of crisis or contingency in conjunction with our Australian partners.”

Exercise Koolendong is expected to wrap up next month before MRF-D depart Australia, concluding the April to October rotation.

[Related: ADF wraps up Operation Solania]

Charbel Kadib

Charbel Kadib

News Editor – Defence and Security, Momentum Media

Prior to joining the defence and aerospace team in 2020, Charbel was news editor of The Adviser and Mortgage Business, where he covered developments in the banking and financial services sector for three years. Charbel has a keen interest in geopolitics and international relations, graduating from the University of Notre Dame with a double major in politics and journalism. Charbel has also completed internships with The Australian Department of Communications and the Arts and public relations agency Fifty Acres.

ADF, US Marines gear up for Exercise Koolendong
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