2 April 2024

US Marines return to the Top End for annual rotational force training

| Andrew McLaughlin
Start the conversation
two soldiers

US Marine Corps Colonel Brian Mulvihill (right) is welcomed to Darwin by the Royal Australian Navy’s Captain Mitchell Livingstone. Photos: ADF.

A detachment of US Marine Corps (USMC) troops has arrived in Darwin for the 13th iteration of the annual Marine Rotational Force – Darwin (MRF-D) deployment.

The deployment coincides with the start of the Territory’s dry season and gives the USMC a chance to train with ADF personnel on some of the vast training ranges in the Territory, as well as participate in sporting and community events.

Since its first rotation in 2012, MRF-D has grown in size and complexity to the extent that other nations, including Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam, have taken part in or observed the training.

The eight-month rotation of 2000 personnel from a California-based Marine infantry regiment will include dedicated training exercises and scenarios with USMC and ADF vehicles, aircraft and vessels.

READ ALSO Deal finalised for export of Australian-made armoured vehicles to Germany

The USMC says the training will continue to enhance the capabilities, interoperability and readiness of the ADF and the Marines, alongside partners, and is a significant part of Australia’s force posture cooperation with the US.

While the MRF-D program varies, the exercises most frequently held include the Exercise Crocodile Response humanitarian assistance and disaster relief exercise in partnership with the Department of Foreign Affairs, the US Bureau of Humanitarian Assistance and the Indonesian National Agency for Disaster Countermeasure.

Other scenarios include Exercise Southern Jackaroo, an Australian Army-led ground exercise involving Japan and the USMC, and Exercise Hari’I Hamutuk, which is an Australian Army-led engineering training activity in Timor Leste.

Commanding Officer Marine Rotational Force – Darwin 2024, Colonel Brian Mulvihill, said: “The Marines and sailors of Marine Rotational Force – Darwin are honoured and excited to continue the legacy of cooperation and interoperability with our Australian Defence Force brothers and sisters.

READ ALSO ADF to buy its first laser-based counter-drone system

“Our strong alliance contributes to stability in the region and makes all our forces more ready to respond to any crisis or contingency that arises.”

USMC helicopter

A USMC AH-1Z Viper helicopter is unloaded from a USAF C-5M Galaxy transport in Darwin.

Commanding Officer of the ADF’s Headquarters Northern Command, Captain Mitchell Livingstone (RAN), welcomed the 13th MRF-D to Darwin.

“These rotations not only help build interoperability between the ADF and the US, but also serve to increase regional cooperation with partner nations in the Indo-Pacific,” he said.

“Over the next eight months, the ADF and USMC will conduct a comprehensive range of training activities, including humanitarian assistance, security operations, and live-fire exercises, all of which better prepare our forces to respond effectively to contingencies that may arise.”

Start the conversation

Be among the first to get all the Public Sector and Defence news and views that matter.

Subscribe now and receive the latest news, delivered free to your inbox.

By submitting your email address you are agreeing to Region Group's terms and conditions and privacy policy.