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NEWS | June 21, 2022

SECNAV Visits Innovative Forward Deployed Marines and Sailors with MRF-D 22

By Capt. Joseph DiPietro U.S. Marine Corps

DARWIN, AUSTRALIA. – The Honorable Carlos Del Toro, the 78th Secretary of the Navy, visited Marines and Sailors with the Marine Rotational Force-Darwin (MRF-D) on June 18.

As part of a battlefield circulation tour in the Southwest Pacific, the Secretary of the Navy (SECNAV) joined MRF-D for awareness and updates on operations, experimentation, and training for the forward-deployed Marine Air Ground Task Force (MAGTF).

“We have a solemn responsibility to be prepared to fight and win wars. I’m so proud to have the Marine Corps here in Australia,” said SECNAV to the Marines and Sailors with the MRF-D aviation combat element, following an update on emerging capabilities of the partnered MAGTF. “This is an advanced capability that is real, and real powerful.”

While fielding questions from MRF-D’s aviation combat element, Secretary Del Toro spent time discussing critical traits of successful units he observes, including unit cohesion, readiness, and innovation. He challenged the Marines to develop new concepts and creative solutions to the modern battlefield problems facing our maritime force.

“It is the innovation and the courage of our Marines and Sailors that protect the world,” emphasized SECNAV. “You are at the pointy end of the spear out here doing great work.”

Joining the secretary and his staff was a collection of senior Australian Defence Force leaders from the Darwin area, each representing the units, branches, and bases that work with, and train alongside, MRF-D throughout each rotation.

“It really dawns on me, the historic relationship of our two nations,” commented Secretary Del Toro, while socializing with his Australian hosts at a WWII-era officer’s mess aboard RAAF Base Darwin. “Australia has been by our side and we will always be by their side in the fight for freedom for all those around the world.”

SECNAV’s visit comes at a critical inflection point for Marine Corps and Navy integration. For decades, Marines and Sailors worked together in order to successfully execute amphibious operations in times of both peace and war. While amphibious operations will remain critical well into the future, more robust “blue-green” connections are made every day with an eye towards greater collaboration and mutual support in the maritime domain.

“Working as the naval gunfire liaison officer for MRF-D is both a new experience and a rewarding billet to help progress the combined Navy-Marine Corps warfighting capability,” said U.S. Navy Chief Warrant Officer Ralph Julien. “We work every day to progress sea-denial tactics and procedures, so when the time comes, our MAGTF is ready to work with our Navy counterparts, as well as other joint and combined partners.”

Prior to this year’s rotation, leaders from across MRF-D 22 came together in order to receive briefs, attend courses, and work closely with Navy personnel to better understand the processes and procedures that underpin naval warfighting. These experiences paid off during 1st Marine Division’s Exercise STEEL KNIGHT, as the MRF-D team joined with Amphibious Squadron 7 to advance their collective skills off the coast of California.

“Part of our journey is to train and certify a sea-combat capable headquarters that will integrate naval and joint effects on the adversary in the contested littoral environment,” said the commanding general of the 1st Marine Division, Major General Roger B. Turner Jr.

The 78th Secretary of the Navy is one of over a dozen distinguished visitors to spend time with MRF-D this year. Each of these visitors recognized the strength of the alliance between the United States and Australia, and the noteworthy efforts of MRF-D Marines and Sailors to maintain a high level of combat readiness, advance service-level initiatives, and enhance relationships and interoperability with the Australian Defence Force, Japanese Self Defense Force, Tentara Nasional Indonesia, and other regional partners.

“It was a great opportunity and experience to highlight what our Marines and Sailors accomplished so far during MRF-D 22,” emphasized MRF-D staff judge advocate Captain Annie Bruton, who led the visit for SECNAV. “Our team is working extremely hard to set up follow-on rotations for success, and hearing the SECNAV’s vision for those future rotations was extremely valuable for our team.”

For questions regarding this story, please contact the Marine Rotational Force – Darwin media inquiry email address at MRFDMedia@usmc.mil. Imagery from this rotation and previous can be found at dvidshub.net/unit/MRF-D.

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