NEWS | June 28, 2021

U.S. Marines in Australia Complete Embassy Reinforcement and Noncombatant Evacuation Operations Exercise

By 1st Lt. Gabriel Lechuga Marine Rotational Force - Darwin

DARWIN, NT, Australia -- Marine Rotational Force – Darwin successfully completed an embassy reinforcement and noncombatant evacuation operations exercise called “Darrandarra,” last week at the Australian Defence Force’s Northern Command depot in Nhulunbuy, NT, Australia.

The focus of Darrandarra was to enhance Marine Rotational Force – Darwin’s ability to assist the U.S. Department of State with reinforcing embassies in the Indo-Pacific region and evacuating American citizens whose lives are in danger due to rising civil unrest or political tensions.

The exercise was conducted in coordination with members of the Australian Defence Force who assisted the Marine Corps with logistical planning, exercise control and community engagement.

The planning phase of the exercise began at Robertson Barracks, where Marines and ADF members developed a plan that allowed Marine Rotational Force – Darwin to transport troops and equipment to Nhulunbuy using an Australian C-130 Hercules in addition to U.S. Marine Corps MV-22B Ospreys.

Once in Nhulunbuy, Marines conducted various training activities at the simulated embassy on the depot, such as using non-lethal force to deescalate civilian riots, enhancing embassy security, and preventing unauthorized people from entering the embassy.

“Working side-by-side with the Australians proved critical to the success of the exercise. Sharing resources makes MRF-D and Northern Command a more efficient and capable force,” said exercise forward command element officer in charge, Capt. Zach Ball.

As the exercise scenario reached a point where the simulated embassy needed to be shut down completely, MRF-D’s Logistics Combat Element established an emergency evacuation center, which is used to safely process and evacuate American citizens. Marine Rotational Force – Darwin used Marines as role-players to make the training as realistic as possible.

An additional MRF-D and ADF priority while in Nhulunbuy was to conduct community engagements. Marines and members of the ADF showed support for the local community by attending the opening ceremony of the new East Arnhem Regional Council building, interacting with locals in Yirrkala—a small town in East Arnhem Land—and hosting a community engagement on June 18th.

The community engagement involved a static display of the Marine Corps’ MV-22B Osprey, where locals were able to tour it to get an idea of what it would be like to ride one. Additionally, Marines played sports with local children, let them try on their protective equipment like flak jackets and Kevlar helmets, and discussed their jobs and experience in the Marine Corps and in Australia.

“It was important for us to interact with the community so we could show our appreciation for the opportunity to train in Nhulunbuy. Everyone was friendly and excited to interact with Marines and ADF soldiers and see Ospreys,” said Headquarters Northern Command Operations Officer, Australian Army Lt. Col. Daniel Gosling.

Darrandarra, meaning “together,” demonstrated the Marine Corps' ability to operate with the Australian Defence Force, reinforce embassies, and conduct noncombatant evacuation operations to maintain stability in the Indo-Pacific region. The exercise was a tangible demonstration to the Marine Corps and Australian Defence Force’s commitment to strengthening the current alliance and interacting with the community.