Darwin welcomes next rotation of US Marines.

The latest rotation of US Marines has arrived in the Northern Territory as part of the 12th rotation of Marine Rotational Force – Darwin (MRF-D).
The rotation will enhance the capabilities, interoperability, and readiness of the ADF and the United States Marine Corps (USMC) and is a significant part of the United States Force Posture Initiatives (USFPI), a hallmark of Australia’s alliance with the US.

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.

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Defence, the Hon Richard Marles MP, welcomed the latest rotation of US Marines, saying, “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.”

For more than a decade, cooperation under the Force Posture Initiatives has enhanced Australia’s capacity to deter coercion and maintain a secure and stable Indo-Pacific — since its establishment in 2011, the Marine Rotational Force has expanded from an initial 200 Marines to now 10 times that size each year.

“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,” Marles said.

Commanding Officer Marine Rotational Force – Darwin 2023, Colonel Brendan Sullivan, echoed the statements from the Deputy Prime Minister, saying, “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.”

COL Sullivan’s comments were reinforced by the Australian Commanding Officer Headquarters Northern Command, Captain Mitchell Livingstone, who 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.”

The Force Posture Initiatives have also since expanded to initiatives across the air, maritime, land, and logistics domains.

“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,” CAPT Livingstone added.

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 United States Force Posture Initiatives are a key component of the Australia-United States alliance — the USFPI are a tangible demonstration of the strength of the alliance, and of Defence’s engagement within the Indo-Pacific region.

These initiatives provide security, economic, and community benefits for Australia and the US through the following.

  • Deepening interoperability and enhancing capabilities through training and exercises.
  • Increasing engagement with regional partners in the Indo-Pacific.
  • Better positioning both nations to respond to crises in the region, including humanitarian assistance and disaster relief.
  • Generating economic, industry, and community benefits for Northern Australia through infrastructure investment and the provision of support services.
  • Building a strong community presence through an array of activities including volunteering, community and school visits.

The Marines will remain in Australia until October 2023.


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