Amid Covid – U.S. Marines Train With Australian Defense Force

After completing quarantine for Covid-19, approximately 1,200 U.S. Marines attached to the Marine Rotational Force-Darwin (MRF-D) have been given a clean bill of health and begun training with the Australian Defense Force (ADF) in the tropical Northern Territory. While in Australia, the U.S. Marines also train with other regional partners.

The MRF-D consists of a contingent of U.S. Marines and their equipment rotate through Northern Australia during the summer dry season, completing combined exercises and training with the ADF.

According to Defense Connect:

The MRF-D has grown in size and complexity since the first rotation of 200 US Marines through Darwin in 2012, to reaching the milestone of 2,500 Marines in 2019. It is now a highly capable force that provides significant opportunities to enhance interoperability with the Australian Defence Force.

This year’s rotation, which will continue through September, has been modified with strict measures in place to mitigate the risks of Covid. It is also smaller than recent rotations. The Marine Corps Times reported that “the Northern Territory was declared coronavirus free almost two weeks ago, but its borders remain closed to non-essential travel.”

Allowing the annual training during Covid was a big deal for Australia, but according to Defense Connect, Australian “Minister for Defence, Linda Reynolds CSC said the release of the last U.S. Marines from quarantine marked a significant milestone for this year’s MRF-D rotation.”

Minister Reynolds added how smoothly the screening and quarantine process had been:

With one positive result captured at initial entry and no further infections, the successful management of the arrival of the US Marines reflects the efforts and planning by the Australian Defence Force (ADF), the Northern Territory government and MRF-D.

The MRF-D’s composition varies annually depending on the training and other activities planned with the ADF and regional partners each year. This year reported Defense Connect, the “Marines have been undertaking a modified training program at various Defence training facilities around the greater Darwin area, including Mount Bundey and Kangaroo Flats.”

Colonel David Banning, Commanding Officer, MRF-D said, “As we progress in our training, we will demonstrate our crisis response capability and continue to improve interoperability through our long-standing exercise, Koolendong,” reported Defense Connect.

The U.S.-Australian defense bond remains strong – even during a pandemic.

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Paul Crespo

Paul Crespo is the Managing Editor of American Defense News. A defense and national security expert, he served as a Marine Corps officer and as a military attaché with the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) at US embassies worldwide. Paul holds degrees from Georgetown, London, and Cambridge Universities. He is also CEO of SPECTRE Global Risk, a security advisory firm, and President of the Center for American Defense Studies, a national security think tank.

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