United States Marines have arrived in the Northern Territory as part of the 12th rotation of Marine Rotational Force – Darwin (MRF-D). Over the next seven months, up to 2,500 Marines will conduct combined training exercises with their Australian Defence Force counterparts, as well as with regional partner nations. The rotation will enhance the capabilities, interoperability, and readiness of the ADF and the United States Marine Corps and is a significant part of the United States Force Posture Initiatives, a hallmark of Australia’s Alliance with the US.
For more than a decade, cooperation under the Force Posture Initiatives has enhanced our capacity to deter coercion and maintain a secure and stable Indo-Pacific. Since its establishment under the Gillard Government in 2011, the Marine Rotational Force has expanded from an initial 200 Marines to now ten times that size each year. The Force Posture Initiatives have also since expanded to initiatives across the air, maritime, land and logistics domains.
Last week, the Albanese Government announced as part of AUKUS, an expansion of the Force Posture Initiatives in the Submarine Rotational Force – West, which will see US nuclear-powered submarines rotate through HMAS Stirling beginning from 2027. The Marines will remain in Australia until October 2023.
Deputy Prime Minister Richard Marles said, “The US is our most vital security partner and the strength of our Alliance highlights our joint commitment to promoting a secure, stable, and inclusive Indo-Pacific. Our cooperation with the US has been instrumental to enhance the capability and interoperability of both nations through joint exercises and activities. Australia-US force posture cooperation will continue to offer significant investment into Australia, including opportunities for Australian industry.”
Commanding Officer Marine Rotational Force – Darwin 2023, Colonel Brendan Sullivan said: “We are honoured to extend the legacy of the US-Australian Alliance, working side-by-side with our ADF partners to provide support for contingencies and crises in the region. Our team is postured and ready to advance shared goals, demonstrate the strength and endurance of our alliance, and contribute to regional security and partnerships.”
Commanding Officer Headquarters Northern Command, Captain Mitchell Livingstone said “Having this Marine rotation in the Top End not only helps build interoperability between the ADF and the US, but also serves to increase regional cooperation with partner nations in the Indo-Pacific. Over the next six months, the ADF and USMC will conduct a comprehensive range of training activities including humanitarian assistance, security operations, and high-end live fire exercises, all of which better prepare our forces to respond effectively to contingencies that may arise.”