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United States Force Posture Initiatives

Captain Adams meets US Marine Major Evans in Darwin

United States Force Posture Initiatives in Australia

Overview

In November 2011, Australia and the United States (US) announced two force posture initiatives that significantly enhance practical defence cooperation. The initiatives are an extension of Australia's existing defence relationship with the US and:
  • support our common interest in promoting regional security and stability
  • enhance the capabilities of both forces through combined training and improved interoperability
  • position both nations to better respond to emergencies and natural disasters in the Indo-Pacific.

US Marine Corps Initiative

The US Marine Corps Initiative involves the rotation of US Marines through northern Australia during the six month dry season (typically April – September). In its mature state, the Marine Rotational Force - Darwin (MRF-D) will be a Marine Air-Ground Task Force of around 2500 personnel with a variety of aircraft, vehicles and equipment. While in Australia, the Marines undertake a range of training activities including bilateral training with the Australian Defence Force (ADF) and independent training at existing Defence facilities. Visit the United States Marine Corps Initiative for more information.

Enhanced Air Cooperation Initiative

The Enhanced Air Cooperation (EAC) Initiative will develop over a number of years and result in increased rotations of US Air Force elements through northern Australia. The initiative will enhance bilateral collaboration and offer greater opportunities for combined training and exercises. The details of EAC are being discussed between the Australian and US governments.

Force Posture Agreement

The treaty-level Force Posture Agreement between Australia and the US provides a framework for how the two nations will collaborate on force posture initiatives. It was signed at the 2014 Australia-United States Ministerial Consultations and came into effect on 31 March 2015.

The Force Posture Agreement enables US forces to have a presence in Australia and perform activities such as security operation exercises, joint and combined training exercises, humanitarian assistance and disaster relief as agreed with Australia. The Agreement does not allow for permanent US military bases in Australia. US forces will be hosted at existing Defence sites like Robertson Barracks and RAAF Base Darwin.

USFPI Milestones

Date Milestone
April 2016 The fifth rotation of MRF-D arrives in Australia. It includes around 1250 US Marines, four Bell UH-1Y Venom helicopters, 100 vehicles and a range of equipment.
April 2015 The fourth rotation of MRF-D arrives in Australia. It includes around 1150 US Marines, four CH-53E Super Stallion helicopters, 150 vehicles and a range of equipment.
August 2014 The Force Posture Agreement is signed by the Minister for Foreign Affairs, the Minister for Defence, and their US counterparts. The Agreement provides a legal, policy and financial framework for the force posture initiatives.
April 2014 The third rotation of MRF-D arrives in Australia. It includes around 1150 US Marines, four CH-53E Super Stallion helicopters, 150 vehicles, and a range of equipment.
November 2013 Australia and the US sign a Statement of Principles at the Australia-US Ministerial Consultations (AUSMIN). It provides a common vision for the USFPI and starts negotiations for the Force Posture Agreement.
May 2013 Defence releases the outcomes of social and economic assessments of the impacts associated with the rotation of 1100 US Marines to Darwin.
April 2013 The second rotation of MRF-D arrives in Australia. It includes around 250 US Marines.
October 2012 Defence releases the outcomes of social and economic assessments of the impacts associated with the rotation of 200 to 250 US Marines to Darwin.
April 2012 The first rotation of MRF-D arrives in Australia. It includes around 200 US Marines.
November 2011 Australia and the US announce two force posture initiatives to deepen bilateral defence cooperation.