Marine rotational force returns to Australia for its 12th training season
Stars and Stripes March 24, 2023
U.S. Marines have boots on the ground in northern Australia again to begin a seven-month training rotation, according to Australia’s deputy prime minister.
The 12th contingent since 2012 of Marine Rotational Force - Darwin includes 2,500 Marines, Richard Marles, who is also Australia’s Minister of Defence, said in a statement Thursday.
“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,” he said.
The Marines will remain in Australia until October, according to Marles.
The rotation builds cooperation between the allies and with other nations in the Indo-Pacific, Australian navy Capt. Mitchell Livingstone, commander of Headquarters, Northern Command, said in the statement.
The Australians and Marines will train to provide humanitarian assistance and to conduct security operations. They’ll also conduct high-end live fire exercises, he said.
The 1st Marine Regiment provides the command element overseeing 3rd Battalion, 1st Marine Regiment and Combat Logistics Battalion 1. All are based at Camp Pendleton, Calif., Maj. Matthew Wolf, a spokesman for the rotational force, said in an email Friday.
The force includes Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 363 from Kaneohe Bay, Hawaii, he said.
The Marines will train in the Northern Territory, Queensland and South Australia and participate in the Talisman Sabre exercise in July, Wolf said.
A task force of 17,000 U.S., Australian, New Zealand, Japanese, South Korean and British troops participated in Talisman Sabre in Australia in 2021, the last time the biennial exercise was held.
The Marines arrive in Darwin against a backdrop of growing links between the U.S. and Australia.
President Joe Biden, Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese and U.K. Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, leaders of the AUKUS pact countries, on March 14 announced a new submarine deal, part of an effort to counter Chinese expansionism in the Indo-Pacific.
Under the deal, Australia aims to launch its own nuclear-powered subs in the 2030s. A rotational force of U.S. and British subs will operate from Western Australia starting in 2027.
Days later, Australia announced it plans to buy up to 220 Tomahawk cruise missiles from the U.S. after the State Department approved the sale on March 17.