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U.S. Marines board an MV-22B Osprey at Royal Australian Air Force Base Darwin, Australia, May 26, 2021.
U.S. Marines board an MV-22B Osprey at Royal Australian Air Force Base Darwin, Australia, May 26, 2021. (Sarah Nadeau/U.S. Marine Corps)

A company of U.S. Marines will soon join Australian and Japanese troops in the Outback for drills that aim to enhance their ability to coordinate artillery and air support with both manned and unmanned aircraft.

Exercise Southern Jackaroo kicks off Tuesday and runs through June 24, Capt. Thomas deVries, a spokesman for Marine Corps Rotational Force — Darwin, said in an email Thursday.

“The purpose of the exercise is to increase the capacity to mutually support one another during joint operations,” he said.

The force of 2,200 Marines is twice the size of the one that deployed to Darwin for the annual six-month rotation last year as the coronavirus pandemic raged. A record 2,500 Marines were sent there in 2019.

Southern Jackaroo, which happens annually, reinforces cooperation across a range of military disciplines, including infantry, aviation, artillery, and combat engineer training, according to the head of Australia’s army, Lt. Gen. Rick Burr.

“The three forces will conduct complex activities coordinating artillery, unmanned aircraft systems and rotary wing assets,” he said in an army statement. “There is a lot to learn from our partners and this trilateral format allows us to better understand our respective capabilities. It also enables us to continue to work together and be ready to contribute to national and collective responses.”

The exercise comes just before Talisman Sabre, large-scale biennial training involving 17,000 troops, mostly from the U.S. and Australia, that starts in late June and peaks July 18-31. Canada, Japan, South Korea, New Zealand, and the United Kingdom are also involved.

France, India and Indonesia will participate as observer nations, the Australian Defence Department said last week.

robson.seth@stripes.com

Twitter: @SethRobson1

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