Elements of the 2018 Marine Rotational Force–Darwin (MRF-D) will begin arriving in the Top End this month to prepare for the seventh and largest rotation to date. The rotation will include 1,587 US Marines, eight MV-22 Osprey tilt-rotor aircraft and an artillery battery of six M777 Howitzers.
Minister for Defence, Senator the Hon Marise Payne welcomed the increased Marine rotation, which underscores the commitment of both the Australian and US Governments to the full implementation of the United States Force Posture Initiatives.
“These Initiatives strengthen the ability of Australia and the US to work together, and with regional partners, in the interests of regional stability and security,” Minister Payne said.
Since 2012, the MRF-D has been increasing in size and complexity, further enhancing the interoperability and capability of Australian and US forces.
“During major exercises the rotation will include additional equipment and assets such as AH-1W Super Cobra helicopters, UH-1Y Venom helicopters, F/A-18 Hornet aircraft and MC-130 Hercules aircraft,” Minister Payne said.
Minister Payne said the increase in personnel and capability will enable a broader range of exercises and training activities with the Australian Defence Force and other regional nations.
“During the six-month training period, the US Marines are expected to participate in 15 training activities alongside the ADF. Other regional nations, including Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and many more will also participate in or observe some of these training activities,” Minister Payne said.
“Australia and the US have a longstanding history of working together to promote peace, security and stability across the globe. Australia welcomes opportunities to work with the United States to foster greater cooperation with our regional partners.”
Minister Payne said in addition to training with the US Marines, the ADF conducts air training exercises with the US Air Force personnel and regional nations under the Enhanced Air Cooperation Initiative.
This year’s EAC activities include an aero medical evacuation training mission; 5th generation fighter integration; combat mobility activities with the US Marine Corps; undertaking integrated aircraft maintenance; and expanding air-to-air refuelling capabilities.
“Enhanced Air Cooperation activities complement and support training with the US Marines, as it increases the ability of Australia and the US to deploy into the region, where and when they are required to do so,” Minister Payne said.
“The US military plays a vital role in underwriting security and stability across the Indo-Pacific, and the Force Posture Initiatives will be an essential component in preserving stability and security over the coming decades,” she said.
The US Marines are expected to complete the rotation of training in Australia in October 2018.