CAMP H.M. SMITH, Hawaii -- Marines have begun to arrive in Darwin, Australia for the ninth iteration of the Marine Rotational Force – Darwin (MRF-D) initiative. The modified rotation involves approximately 1,200 Marines from 1st Marine Division, 1st Marine Logistics Group, and 1st Marine Aircraft Wing.
These units are organized as a Marine Air-Ground Task Force (MAGTF), consisting of a Command Element, Ground Combat Element, Aviation Combat Element, and Logistics Combat Element. This structure provides a combat-proven, flexible, scalable, and self-sustaining air-ground-logistics team capable of quickly responding to a variety of contingencies.
The Ground Combat Element is comprised of an infantry battalion, 3rd Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment, an artillery battery from 3rd Battalion, 11th Marine Regiment, and a detachment from 1st Combat Engineer Battalion. The Aviation Combat Element is comprised of a detachment from Marine Unmanned Aerial Vehicle Squadron (VMU) 3, and additional elements to support the RQ-21A Blackjack platform. The Logistics Combat element is comprised of Combat Logistics Battalion 5 and supporting elements.
This iteration of the MRF-D initiative will consist of various squad and company-level live-fire training events, and a culminating MAGTF-level exercise. The training events will occur throughout the Northern Territory until the conclusion of the deployment in September.
The entirety of MRF-D forces will undergo mandatory pre-travel screening prior to arriving at Royal Australian Air Force Base Darwin. Upon arrival, each Marine will be screened and tested for COVID-19 before being quarantined for 14 days at specially prepared facilities in the Darwin area. Upon conclusion of the mandatory quarantine period, each Marine will be re-tested prior to commencing training. Additionally, MRF-D forces will implement social distancing and strict compliance with all Australian COVID-19 guidelines during training. These measures are in place to ensure the health and safety of MRF-D forces and the Australian people, including local indigenous communities.
The U.S. remains committed to our mutual defense treaty with Australia and to enhancing interoperability and capability between the Marine Corps and our regional partners, which benefits each country’s security and contributes to stability in the Indo-Pacific region.
The changes to this year’s deployment do not change the plans for those in subsequent years.