Darwin, Australia -- U.S. Marines from Marine Rotational Force – Darwin (MRF-D) and Australian Army soldiers and have completed a live-fire, high-end warfighting exercise in the Northern Territory.
Conducted at the Mount Bundey Training Area from 1 to 11 September, Exercise Koolendong enhanced our ability to mutually support one another in a combined arms environment and improved the ability of the combined force to rapidly respond to crises and assist allies and partners in the Indo-Pacific region.
MRF-D Commanding Officer, Col. David Banning stated Koolendong was designed to build proficiency and interoperability among the Marines and Australian Defence Force (ADF) to better respond to a variety of security challenges and crises in the region.
“Koolendong provided the long-anticipated opportunity for the U.S. Marines currently deployed to Darwin to engage with our Australian counterparts and build upon the long history of military cooperation between our two nations,” explained Banning.
Just over 1,000 Marines from the rotational force partnered with their Australian allies in order to conduct infantry maneuvers supported with aviation, logistics and indirect fire support. The Marine force is comprised of 3rd Battalion, 7th Marines; Kilo Battery, 3rd Battalion, 11th Marines; Marine Unmanned Aerial Vehicle Squadron 3; and Combat Logistics Battalion 5.
The Australian contingent was comprised of artillery unit 8th/12th Regiment, Royal Australian Artillery and infantry unit 5th Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment both of 1st Brigade as well as armed reconnaissance helicopters of 1st Aviation Regiment, 16th Brigade.
Commander Headquarters Northern Command, Group Captain Stewart Dowrie, said this year’s Koolendong was the most complex scenario ever attempted, with highly defined interoperability objectives and a deeper focus on exercise design.
By conducting Koolendong, the two forces demonstrated their commitment to the security relationship and displayed resolve in implementing protective measures in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic. The enhanced health protection measures demonstrate a sustained commitment to the U.S.-Australia alliance and ensures continued regional security and stability.
“It has been a real testament to the strength of the U.S.-Australia alliance that we have been able to undertake a modified MRF-D rotation and Exercise Koolendong this year in light of the COVID-19 pandemic," Dowrie said.
Exercise Koolendong was a major bilateral event which culminated the MRF-D 2020 rotation.