10/2472014: In the first two photos, Marines march single file on to the aircraft as they depart Royal Australian Air Force Base Darwin Oct. 17, ending the Marine Rotational Force Darwin’s six-month deployment in the Northwest Territory.
The MRF-D is returning to Camp Pendleton, California, and Marine Corps Base Hawaii. While in Darwin, the third rotation of Marines conducted independent and bilateral training with the Australian Defence Force to increase interoperability and promote stability in the Asia-Pacific region. The Marines are with 1st Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division.
- In the third photo, Marines conduct final checks before boarding the aircraft and departing Royal Australian Air Force Base Darwin Oct. 17, ending the Marine Rotational Force Darwin’s six-month deployment in the Northwest Territory.
- In the fourth photo, Gunnery Sgt. Don Turner and 1st Lt. Sean McDonnell pin sergeant rank insignia on Mario Farias as he is promoted minutes before boarding the aircraft and departing Royal Australian Air Force Base Darwin Oct. 17, ending the Marine Rotational Force Darwin’s six-month deployment in the Northwest Territory. Farias is an infantryman, Turner an infantry unit leader, and McDonnell an infantry officer with 1st Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division.
According to an Australian Army article about the deployment of Marines and working the Aussie-US military relationship:
Commander 1st Brigade Brigadier John Frewen said Australia and the United States valued the opportunity to learn from each other.
“The second iteration of the US Marine Rotational Force – Darwin has been highly successful in fostering cooperation and inter-operability between our two militaries,” he said.
“Building on the achievements of the first rotation, this rotation of US Marines worked more closely with troops from 5 RAR, pushed their training further afield – including into the Bradshaw Field Training Area for the first time – and developed close ties to the Darwin community.
“Whether in training, in the messes or on the sports fields, the Marine Rotational Force – Darwin have enhanced their reputation in Australia and we look forward to their return in larger numbers next year.”
The ADF and the Marines worked together in a number of small-scale exercises and also last month’s Exercise Koolendong at Bradshaw, south-west of Darwin. This provided an opportunity for about 800 United States and Australian personnel to conduct a live-fire exercise in a remote and austere training environment.
Other participants in Exercise Koolendong were from the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit deployed in ships led by the amphibious assault ship USS Bonhomme Richard and around 150 Australian Army participants from the Darwin-based 5 RAR.
The Marines also participated in exercises in New Zealand and Tonga, and participated in an Australia-Indonesia humanitarian assistance and disaster relief tabletop exercise held in Darwin.
United States Marine Corps Liaison Officer Colonel Javier Ball said it had been a successful deployment.
“These rotations provide outstanding training opportunities to enhance coordination and interoperability between United States and Australian forces,” he said
Leading coordination arrangements for the Marine rotation, Head of Joint Capability Coordination Air Vice-Marshal Neil Hart, was pleased with the shared outcomes since the initial rotation last year.
“Through these two rotations, we have not only strengthened our friendships and working relationships but have built a strong foundation for our future,” he said.
The United States Marine Corps six-month rotations through northern Australia will increase to around 1150 personnel from 2014. The majority of the Marines will be accommodated at Robertson Barracks, with a smaller aviation support contingent of around 130 personnel at RAAF Darwin, along with four heavy lift helicopters.
“Defence is looking forward to the opportunities the next rotation will provide, with work to begin shortly at Robertson Barracks and RAAF Darwin in preparation for the much larger 2014 rotation,” Air Vice-Marshal Hart said.
And according to Navy Times:
Marine Rotational Force— Darwin trained with members of the Australian Defence Force for two weeks in August during Exercise Koolendong. The training took place at the expansive Bradshaw Field Training Area in northern Australia.
While both militaries deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan, they operated independently of one another. Exercise Koolendong, held at a massive range in an unforgiving part of the continent, gave the troops a chance to practice live fire and close air support.
“There’s still a lot to learn in conventional operations,” said Maj. Nathan Fleischaker, the operations officer for MRF— Darwin.
About 1,250 Marines with MRF— Darwin participated in Koolendong alongside about 320 Australian troops from Aug. 10 through 26. The training events involved a mass casualty drill, improvised explosive training for combat engineers, helicopter and ground live-fire exercises, and a five-day continuous-fire, combined-arms event.
The joint operations Marines and Australians practiced during Koolendong weren’t common in the recent campaigns in Iraq and Afghanistan, Fleischaker said, so the militaries are learning new ways to work together. The Australians provided artillery fire on the Marines’ behalf, he said. They also provided tank and close-air support.
“That’s pretty groundbreaking stuff, and that’s the kind of stuff that’s pushing the boundaries … that will be built upon in future years,” Fleischaker said.
Koolendong also marked the end of 1st Battalion, 5th Marines’ six-month rotation to Australia. The Marines will now redeploy to their home base at Camp Pendleton, California.