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NEWS | June 20, 2024

MRF-D 24.3 U.S. Marines, Sailors, ADF concludes amphibious operations during WADER aboard HMAS Adelaide

By Gunnery Sgt. Kassie McDole, Marine Rotational Force - Darwin

U.S. Marines and Sailors with Marine Rotational Force – Darwin (MRF-D) 24.3 concluded the Wet and Dry Exercise Rehearsal (WADER) aboard HMAS Adelaide (L01) from June 2 - 20.

This exercise aimed to enhance amphibious capabilities and strengthen the partnership between the United States and Australian Defence Force (ADF). The Royal Australian Navy hosted 47 Marines and four Sailors with MRF-D 24.3 aboard HMAS Adelaide (L01), an Australian Landing Helicopter Dock (LHD), alongside the Australian Amphibious Force (AAF) to participate in a comprehensive training mission designed to enhance joint operational capabilities.

MRF-D 24.3 Marines, Sailors, Australian Army, and Royal Australian Navy personnel worked closely to conduct a series of training activities. The early stages of WADER included MV-22B Osprey deck landing qualifications executed by Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 268 (Reinforced).

“What a great opportunity it is to have our pilots conduct landings on the HMAS Adelaide (L01), further strengthening our professional relationship with the Australian Defence Force," stated U.S. Marine Corps Lt. Col. Brandon Pope, the commanding officer of VMM-268 (Rein.), MRF-D 24.3. "The return to flight for the squadron has been a methodical approach to re-establish the aircrew proficiency required to execute training events such as this one safely.”

Following the deck landing qualifications, Marines with Weapons Company, 2nd Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment (Reinforced), conducted a Combat Marksmanship Program live-fire deck shoot.

"This was an excellent experience for me and my Marines," said U.S. Marine Corps Staff Sgt. Joshua Sipin, an 81mm mortar section leader with Weapons Co., 2nd Bn., 5th Marines (Rein.), MRF-D 24.3. “Working alongside the Australians, we saw their safety procedures and range control, which was valuable for our Marines.”

One of the key components of the WADER was the integration of fires capabilities, which involved coordinated efforts between MRF-D's littoral fires cell and the AAF’s Supporting Arms Coordination Center.

"Our fires and intelligence Marines were crucial in demonstrating our ability to conduct digital fires through High Frequency radio communication between the ship and the MRF-D Command Operations Center," explained U.S. Marine Corps Capt. Gray Myers, the fires plans officer for MRF-D 24.3 and detachment officer in charge for WADER. "This exercise allowed us to refine our targeting and coordination procedures in a maritime environment."

The integration of fires capabilities was further enhanced by the use of advanced communication systems.

"Our communications Marines established the COC onboard, maintaining network reach back to Darwin throughout the entire float," added Myers. "This ensured that our fires teams could coordinate effectively with the command center, providing real-time updates and adjustments."

Medical training was another critical component of WADER. U.S. Navy medical subject matter expert exchanges with ADF medical personnel aboard HMAS Adelaide (L01) covered various aspects of operational health support, including Role 1 care, triage, mass casualty planning, walking blood bank, surgical care, and en route care.

"We gained valuable insights into each other's practices and protocols, enhancing our medical readiness and collaboration," said Royal Australian Navy Cmdr. Peter Smith, a retrieval doctor with the Maritime Operational Health Unit. "It was great to have MRF-D onboard to exchange our medical practices.”

The ADF incorporated vehicles and logistics personnel from Combat Logistics Battalion 5 (Reinforced) into their battle rhythm, further demonstrating the seamless integration between U.S. and Australian forces.

"We safely maneuvered our vehicles to the staging area and helped the Australian embarkation specialists load them onto the ship by crane," said U.S. Marine Corps Cpl. Cody Albert, a motor transport operator with CLB-5 (Rein.), MRF-D 24.3. “Once on board, we continued to work closely with them to position the vehicles for the exercises, practicing loading and unloading the vehicles onto a landing craft, preparing for the amphibious operation."

The culmination of the exercise included a significant ship-to-shore movement, which tested and demonstrated the practical aspects of amphibious ship-to-shore operations.

"We have to make sure the vehicles have appropriate shoring to avoid any issues during the offload," said U.S. Marine Corps Cpl. Colin Shannon, a logistics specialist with CLB-5 (Rein.), MRF-D 24.3. "Working with the Australians was a great learning experience. We saw how they operate and learned different techniques, which helped us improve our own processes. Their support was crucial in ensuring smooth offloading operations."

As the exercise concluded, both U.S. and Australian forces reflected on the success of their joint efforts and the valuable experiences gained. The standard operating procedures developed during WADER will facilitate future interoperability between MRF-D and ADF, ensuring both forces remain prepared to respond to crises and maintain peace and stability in the Indo-Pacific region.

​“It was great to have our friends and Allies onboard again,” said Royal Australian Navy Capt. Troy Duggan, the commanding officer of HMAS Adelaide. “This was a great experience for my crew to learn from them, interact, share stories, and create new friendships.”

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