DARWIN, NT, Australia -- U.S. Marines have completed the ninth iteration of Marine Rotational Force – Darwin (MRF-D) in Australia’s Northern Territory. The U.S. Marines that comprised the 2020 rotation have departed Australia and returned to their home stations.
“This year’s rotation was a testament to the strong alliance between Australia and the United States,” said U.S. Marine Col. David Banning, commanding officer for MRF-D. “We were able to effectively complete the rotation even while operating under the threat of COVID-19.”
MRF-D is designed to increase interoperability with the Australian Defence Force (ADF), engage with regional partners and allies, and provide a forward-deployed force capable of responding to crisis within the Indo-Pacific region.
One of the most significant achievements during the rotation was the employment of the entire Marine Air-Ground Task Force and integrated Australian Defence Forces during the culminating activity, Exercise Koolendong. Koolendong demonstrated the combined Australia and U.S. readiness to respond to crises, ranging from humanitarian assistance to high-end warfighting, in addition to achieving considerable interoperability objectives.
“The rotation saw the successful completion of strict quarantine procedures with the assistance of our ADF counterparts and the local government. Upon completion, Marines immediately began conducting training in the Top End. We worked up from platoon level attacks to battalion sized events. We saw the integration of ADF artillery and aviation assets as well as aviation from our sister services. This rotation also allowed for the first RQ-21A flight to occur within Australia, and for the increase our overall, combined capabilities,” said Banning.
Next year’s rotation will mark the 10-year anniversary of MRF-D and will again be commanded by Col. Banning. The rotation will continue to innovate a path forward while operating during this unprecedented time.
The Marine Corps’ rotational presence reflects the enduring Australia-U.S. alliance and common security interests in the region.