Three years after the announcement of Australia–United States force posture initiatives, the annual visit by a United States Marine Corps unit has proven to be of value to both Australia and the United States.
In April 2014, the third annual deployment of a US Marine Corps unit for training in Australia commenced for the six-month northern dry season and Darwin became the temporary home to approximately 1,100 marines supported by four CH-53 helicopters.
Lance Cpl. Justin Oates, machine gunner, Weapons Platoon, Lima Company, 3rd Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment, Marine Rotational Force – Darwin, engages a simulated enemy force with an M240B machine gun.
The arrival of the Marine Rotational Force-Darwin (MRF-D) 2014 has resulted in many bilateral training and community engagement activities with the Australian Defence Force. Through exercises at training areas across the Northern Territory, the marines have gained valuable skills in operating in a climate and landscape that they have not previously experienced. Similarly, Australian soldiers have improved their interoperability with the US marines and maintained high-end ADF operational skills.
The increased number of US marines for the 2014 rotation has added a new dimension to Robertson Barracks where the majority of marines reside, and to RAAF Base Darwin, which is home to the marine aviation element. Defence has constructed new demountable accommodation and refurbished existing buildings to accommodate the additional living and working requirements.
Defence has been working closely with the US to achieve the full implementation of the force posture initiative with the aim of achieving a ‘mature state’ by no later than 2020. At mature state, there will be around 2,500 personnel, a wide range of weapons systems, amphibious and land vehicles, and more than 20 aircraft.