DARWIN, Australia -- Lieutenant General Stephen Sklenka, Deputy Commander of U.S. Indo-Pacific Command (USINDOPACOM), and Brigadier General Joseph Clearfield, Deputy Commander of Marine Corps Forces Pacific (MARFORPAC) visited the Marine Rotational Force – Darwin (MRF-D) and the Australian 1st Brigade on August 25 to reinforce the strength and importance of the U.S.-Australian alliance.
“We can talk all day long about trade deals and policy deals, but what says a heck of a lot more is who is by your side when you are in a fight,” said General Sklenka, who serves as second-in-command of the largest U.S. combatant command. “Australia is always on our side when that time comes, and we will always remember that.”
General Sklenka visited MRF-D following a tour of the Indo-Pacific, which included a visit to Canberra to meet with senior Australian Defence Force (ADF) officials, and a trip to Guadalcanal, Solomon Islands, to commemorate the 80th anniversary of the U.S.-Australian victory on the critical Pacific island. His engagements with MRF-D also included a visit with the ADF’s 1st Brigade, MRF-D’s primary partner, to bolster defense ties and interoperability opportunities.
“MRF-D started as a bi-lateral initiative, and it has grown in quantity and quality over the years,” explained General Sklenka to a group of Marines and Sailors with the Marine Air Ground Task Force (MAGTF). “Just look at PITCH BLACK, which is now up to 15 international Allies and partners, and you see the growth in our Indo-Pacific team.”
Joining the USINDOPACOM leader was MARFORPAC deputy commander, General Clearfield, who helps lead all Marine Corps activity across the massive Pacific theater. General Clearfield spoke to MRF-D about the importance of the Australian-based MAGTF and the relationship with our Allies.
“The MRF-D MAGTF is at the forefront and the cutting edge of force design and future Marine Corps organization,” said General Clearfield, a former Pacific Marine Expeditionary Unit commander. “It’s not lost on anyone at MARFORPAC or higher how much MRF-D is doing in the region and the tremendous opportunities the Australians provide to enhance training and interchangeability.”
During a tour with the MRF-D logistics combat element, General Clearfield emphasized the importance of interchangeability over interoperability when possible. He highlighted MRF-D 22’s effort to utilize Australian supply systems to integrate with U.S. procedures in addition to warfighting integration of the two Allied forces.
The pair of senior Indo-Pacific leaders also spent time with Brigadier Nick Foxall, the commanding officer for the ADF’s 1st Brigade and leader of the Australian unit most tightly paired with MRF-D 22. The leaders shared their future visions of littoral combat and Brigadier Foxall offered significant praise for the MRF-D team.
“Colonel Steele and his Marines have been tremendous guests and even better teammates since arriving here in Darwin,” offered Brigadier Foxall during the gathering. “MRF-D is really woven into the fabric of the Northern Territory and we couldn’t ask for better partners and friends.”
General Sklenka and General Clearfield join a long list of senior military leaders to visit MRF-D this year, including both the commanders of USINDOPACOM and MARFORPAC. Admiral Aquilino, General Rudder, and numerous other U.S. and international leaders visited with MRF-D in 2022, just one of a few ways Indo-Pacific Allies and partners recognized the importance of the mission here in Darwin.
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.