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United States Force Posture Initiatives

United States Force Posture Initiatives in Australia

Announced in 2011, the Force Posture Initiatives (‘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. Through combined training and improved interoperability the initiatives enhance the capabilities of both forces, and position both nations to better respond to emergencies and natural disasters.

The initiatives comprise two key elements – an annual six month rotational deployment of US Marine Corps and a program of Enhanced Air Cooperation.

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Implementation Progress

The Force Posture Agreement between Australia and the US came into effect on 31 March 2015 and provides a framework to facilitate the implementation of the initiatives. The two nations have worked collaboratively to develop sustainable policy and governance arrangements. These arrangements directly support the closer collaboration, interoperability and integration envisaged under the Force Posture Agreement.

The initiatives will also generate investment in infrastructure across northern Australia, particularly in the Northern Territory. Infrastructure and facilities development will be concentrated at Robertson Barracks, RAAF Base Darwin and RAAF Base Tindal. Design and construction work will occur over a number of years with some construction activity expected to start in 2018.

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US Marine Corps

Captain Adams meets US Marine Major Evans in Darwin

The US Marine Corps initiative involves the rotation of US Marines through northern Australia during the dry season.

This year’s rotation will involve around 1,250 US Marines and up to 13 aircraft deploying from April to October. The rotation will include a detachment of four MV-22 Ospreys, in addition to five AH-1W Super Cobra helicopters and four Bell UH-1Y Venom helicopters and a range of equipment. The Marines will be accommodated within existing Defence facilities such as Robertson Barracks, RAAF Base Darwin and Defence Establishment Berrimah.

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Enhanced Air Cooperation

The Enhanced Air Cooperation initiative is designed to strengthen the already close air-to-air relationship between Australia and the US and commenced in early 2017 with US Air F-22 Raptors visiting RAAF Base Tindal for three weeks training. This has been followed by an activity in March which focused on air field damage repair training opportunities. This initiative will develop over a number of years and result in increased rotations of US air elements through northern Australia.

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US RAAF fighters exercise for Enhanced Air Cooperative Initiative

Milestones

Force Posture Initiative Milestones

Date Milestone
April 2017 The sixth rotation of Marine Rotational Force – Darwin (MRF–D) arrives in Australia. The rotation includes around 1,250 Marines and up to 13 aircraft including four MV-22 Ospreys.
February 2017 The first Enhanced Air Cooperation activity commenced in Darwin with a squadron of fifth generation F-22 Raptors visiting RAAF Base Tindal.
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.