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United States Force Posture Initiatives

Marine Rotational Force - Darwin

The Marine Rotational Force – Darwin (MRF–D) initiative involves the annual rotation of US Marines through Northern Australia for approximately six months during the dry season. While in Australia, the MRF–D undertakes a range of activities including training unilaterally and with the Australian Defence Force (ADF) and other Indo–Pacific nations.

The MRF–D initiative has grown in size and complexity since the first rotation of 200 US Marines in 2012. The 2019 rotation consists of 2,500 US Marines and is the most capable to date, including a High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS), advanced TPS–80 radar system and an Aviation Combat Element including MV–22 Ospreys and UH/AH–1 helicopters. This deployment is providing opportunities to further deepen interoperability with the ADF. The MRF–D 2019 rotation also includes an enhanced Command Element headed by a Colonel, a Ground Combat Element and a Logistics Combat Element.

Current Rotation

Marine Rotational Force - Darwin 2018

MRF-D 19 is the eighth Marine rotation and is the most capable and operationally focused deployment to date.

Regiment Approx. rotation size Equipment Key activities

Command Element

III Marine Expeditionary Force - Camp Courtney, Okinawa, Japan

Ground Combat Element

1st Battalion, 1st Marine Regiment, Camp Pendleton, California

3rd Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment, Marine Corps Base, Hawaii

India Battery, 3rd Battalion 11th Marines - Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center Twentynine Palms, California

Quebec Battery, 5th Battalion, 11th Marines – 1 Platoon HIMARS, Camp Pendleton, California

Air Combat Element

Marine Medium Tilt Rotor Squadron 363 – Lucky Red Lions - Marine Corps Air Station, Kaneohe Bay, Hawaii

Marine Light Attack Helicopter Squadron 367 – Scarface - Marine Corps Air Station, Kaneohe Bay, Hawaii

Marine Wing Support Detachment 24 - Marine Corps Air Station, Kaneohe Bay, Hawaii

Marine Air Control Group 18 Detachment - Marine Corps Air Station Futenma

Logistics Combat Element

Combat Logistics Battalion 1, Camp Pendleton, California

3d Medical Battalion, Shock Trauma Platoon, Camp Foster, Okinawa, Japan

2500 personnel
  • Ten MV-22 Ospreys
  • Three UH-1 Hueys
  • Four AH-1 Cobras
  • Six M777 Howitzers
  • High Mobility Artillery Rocket (HIMARS)
  • TPS-80 Advanced Radar
  • Indo-Pacific Endeavour
  • Exercise Talisman Sabre
  • Exercise Koolendong
  • Exercise Southern Jackaroo
  • Exercise Diamond Storm
  • Exercise Carabaroo

Locations: Training activities will be undertaken at a range of locations in Australia and the region.

Past Rotations

Rotations

2018

Regiment Approx. rotation size Equipment Key activities
2nd Battalion, 4th Marine Regiment, Camp Pendleton, California 1,587 personnel
  • Eight MV-22 Ospreys
  • An artillery battery of six M777 Howitzers
  • Exercises: Indo Pacific Endeavour
  • Koolendong
  • Battlegroup Warfighter
  • Southern Jackaroo
  • Diamond Storm
  • Hamel
  • Croix De Sud

2017

Regiment Approx. rotation size Equipment Key activities
3rd Battalion, 4th Marine Regiment, Camp Pendleton, California; Marine Medium Tilt Rotor Squadron 268; Marine Light Attack Helicopter Squadron 367- Marine Corps Air Station, Kaneohe Bay, Hawaii. 1250
  • Four MV-22 Osprey aircraft.
  • Five AH-1W Super Cobra helicopters.
  • Four UH-1Y Venom helicopters.
  • vehicles and support equipment.

2016

Regiment Approx. rotation size Equipment Key activities
1st Battalion, 1st Marine Regiment, Camp Pendleton, California.
Marine Light Attack Helicopter Squadron 367,
MCAS Kaneohe Bay, Hawaii
Detachment - Combat Logistics
Battalion 1, Camp Pendleton, California.
1250
  • Four Bell UH-1Y Venom helicopters.
  • 100 vehicles.
  • Support equipment.

2015

Regiment Approx. rotation size Equipment Key activities
1st Battalion, 4th Marine Regiment, Camp Pendleton, California.
Detachment - Combat Logistics Battalion 1, Camp Pendleton, California.
1150
  • Four CH-53E Super Stallion helicopters.
  • 150 vehicles.
  • Support equipment.

2014

Regiment Approx. rotation size Equipment Key activities
1st Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment, Camp Pendleton, California. 1150
  • Four CH-53E Super Stallion helicopters.
  • 150 vehicles.
  • Support equipment.

2013

Regiment Approx. rotation size Equipment Key activities
3rd Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment, Hawaii. 250 No heavy equipment, vehicles and aircraft.

2012

Regiment Approx. rotation size Equipment Key activities
2nd Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment, Hawaii 200 No heavy equipment, vehicles and aircraft.
  • Bilateral training with Australian Defence Force

Community Engagement

The MRF-D have a heavy training and exercise schedule while in Australia; however, find time to engage with the local community through their ‘Hearts and Minds’ program. In Australia, these activities include volunteering at schools and in indigenous communities, and participating with Defence in local activities.

The MRF-D 18 have already assisted the ADF with clean-up activities in Darwin, post Cyclone Marcus in March 2018. More than 400 ADF personnel and approximately 50 Marines from MRF-D joined civilian efforts to clean up Darwin. The ADF and MRF-D ‘s support was coordinated by two task groups, led by 1st Combat Engineer Regiment and 5th Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment.

23 March 2018Australian Defence Force stands up Joint Task Force to help cyclone recovery

Cyclone Marcus struck Darwin in the Northern Territory on Saturday 17 Mar 2018, leaving 26,000 homes without electricity, 400 power lines down and hundreds of trees fallen

MRF-D personnel are invited to participate alongside the ADF in local ANZAC Day activities each year. Units of MRF-D 18 paraded with 5RAR, 18/12, and 1CER in the City of Darwin and in the City of Palmerston parades.

MRF-D 18 participated with ADF units in the Australian Army Open Day at Robertson Barracks on 12 May. Weapons, vehicles and tactical gear were on display for the public to explore.

US Marines mentor Australian youth through softball

Marines volunteer football tournament

Marines celebrate Mothers Day Alawa Primary