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United States Force Posture Initiatives

Marine Rotational Force – Darwin

The Marine Rotational Force – Darwin (MRF-D) is one of the US Force Posture Initiatives. The MRF-D sees a contingent of US Marines and their equipment rotate through Northern Australia during the dry season. While in Australia, the MRF-D undertake a range of activities, combined exercises and training with the Australian Defence Force and regional partners.

The composition of the MRF-D changes each year to reflect changes in the environment, advances in technology and lessons learnt from activities with the ADF, other government agencies and partners. It is a highly capable force that can respond to a wide range of crises in the region, engage with partners in the region and enhance interoperability with the Australian Defence Force and other government agencies.

The Australian Government has determined that the safe conduct of modified MRF-D rotations can occur, subject to the rotation adhering to strict measures in place to protect against COVID-19.

Key activities

During their rotation through Northern Australia, the MRF-D conduct a range of activities that challenge their force composition and the range of equipment they bring each year. These are some of the key activities they participate in with the Australian Defence Force along with regional partners at a range of training areas in Australia and throughout the region.

Exercise Darrandarra

Exercise Darrandarra is a training exercise focussing on response to a crisis scenario in our region.

Read more about Exercise Darrandarra

Exercise Koolendong

Exercise Koolendong is MRF-D’s major annual bilateral warfighting exercise conducted under the initiatives. Led by the United States Marine Corps, the exercise focuses on enhanced readiness and increased interoperability with the Australian Defence Force.

Read more about Exercise Koolendong

Crocodile Response

An Australian Aid representative watches as a RAAF C-27J Spartan crew prepare to drop Australian Aid supplies to Mount Bundey Training Area during Exercise Crocodile Response, NT.Exercise Crocodile Response is a humanitarian assistance and disaster relief exercise partnered with the Department of Foreign Affairs and US Bureau of Humanitarian Assistance to increase the readiness of the US Marines and ADF and their ability to conduct foreign humanitarian assistance operations in the event of a natural disaster.

RAAF C-27J Spartan crew prepare to drop Australian Aid supplies to Mount Bundey Training Area during Exercise Crocodile Response, NT.

Read more about Exercise Crocodile Response

Southern Jackaroo

Trilateral Exercise Southern Jackaroo is an Australian Army-led two-week trilateral ground exercise involving participants from Japan and the US, including elements of the MRF-D. The annual activity reinforces the cooperation between Australian, Japanese and US forces across a range of military disciplines including infantry, aviation, artillery, and combat engineer training.

Read more about Exercise Southern Jackaroo

Talisman Sabre

Exercise Talisman Sabre is the principal Australia-US bilateral military training activity. It is conducted biennially and focuses on mid-intensity, high-end warfighting. The exercise reflects the closeness of the Australia and US alliance and strength of the enduring military relationship.

It is designed to support Australian Armed Forces, US military Services and other Government agencies in planning and conducting Combined and Joint Task Force operations, and improve the combat readiness and interoperability between Australian and US forces.

Read more about Talisman Sabre

Exercise Loobye

Exercise Loobye is a bilateral Fires, Command and Control, and information sharing exercise between the ADF and the Marine Rotational Force – Darwin at Bradshaw Field Training Area.

Read more about Exercise Loobye

Community involvement

Members of the MRF-D engage widely and positively with local communities during rotations. They volunteer at schools and indigenous communities. In 2018, members of the MRF-D assisted with the clean up after Cyclone Marcus.

The presence of US Marines has lasting positive impacts on the local community. A Defence-commissioned socioeconomic study showed that there was high awareness of, and strong support for, the presence of the Marines in Darwin.

To coincide with the 2021 Exercise Darrandarra at Nhulunbuy, Northern Territory, US marines displayed an MV 22B- Osprey, provided fresh fruit and interacted with the local community.

MRF-D hosts a community event at Nhulunbuy, NT.

MRF-D hosts a community event at Nhulunbuy, NT. Photo by Cpl. Lydia Gordon, Marine Rotational Force – Darwin

Official website of the US Marine Corps

The official website of the US Marine Corps contains the latest updates on the MRF-D, including news, video and images.

Enhanced Air Cooperation

Enhanced Air Cooperation (EAC) involves increased participation of US air elements in a range of training activities and exercises with the Australian Defence Force in order to foster greater integration between both countries. EAC provides a range of regional engagement activities in the Indo-Pacific region.