US Marines arrive in Darwin: The first group of around 200 US Marines have arrived at RAAF Base Darwin as part of the ninth Marine Rotational Force – Darwin (MRF-D). Minister for Defence Linda Reynolds said their arrival was the result of extensive planning and coordination between both nations to address challenges posed by COVID-19. “MRF-D is an important initiative that deepens interoperability between the Australian Defence Force (ADF) and the US military,” Reynolds said. “Australia’s alliance with the United States is our most important defence relationship. It sends a clear signal about our commitment to the security and stability of our region. The fact that we were able to modify MRF-D and mitigate risks associated with COVID-19 to allow it to proceed is a strong testament of the resilience of our alliance.”  All Marines will be quarantined for 14 days at defence facilities in the Darwin area, following biosecurity screening and COVID-19 testing on arrival. The Marines will be tested again for COVID-19 before exiting quarantine. The US Marines will train with ADF personnel at various defence training facilities around the greater Darwin area, including Mount Bundey and Kangaroo Flats. MRF-D will grow to 1,200 personnel over the next eight weeks, and will train through to September. The rotation will finish with the signature MRF-D/ADF bilateral high-end warfighting activity, Exercise Koolendong. The Marines will then redeploy back to Japan and the United States.

adpr-march-2020-short-range-ground-based-air-defenceNew programmes for veterans’ health: Veterans and their families from across Australia will benefit from projects funded under the Veteran and Community Grants (V&CG) programme. Minister for Veterans’ Affairs Darren Chester announced that more than A$480,000 will be provided to fund activities and services within local communities to help maintain the mental and physical health of our veterans and their families. “The health and well-being of veterans and their families is a priority for the federal government and these grants will help local ex-service organisations, veterans’ groups and community organisations deliver projects that promote a healthy and independent lifestyle—something incredibly important as we navigate the current coronavirus pandemic,” Chester said. The Department of Veterans’ Affairs (DVA) recognises the potential impact coronavirus may have on recipients completing their projects, with social distancing and other public health measures in place across the country. The grants offer will be available for the initial 12-month period, however, if the organisation requires more time to complete their project due to coronavirus, DVA will consider extending the length of the agreement on a case-by-case basis. This flexibility will ensure all of the successful organisations can deliver their projects within a reasonable timeframe and continue to deliver great support to their local veteran community. Download a list of the grants here.

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