About 1,250 Marines are heading to Australia for a Marine Rotational Force-Darwin deployment, a mission that is part of Washington’s “Pacific pivot” and reflects the White House’s commitment to the region.
The Marines, most from the 1st Battalion, 1st Marine Regiment, at Camp Pendleton, Calif., began arriving in Darwin on Wednesday, the Marine Corps said. The rotation will include four UH-1Y Venom helicopters from Marine Light Attack Helicopter Squadron 367 out of Marine Corps Base Hawaii.
During the deployment, the Marines will take on a variety of training exercises throughout the region, including drills with the Australian Defence Force.
“These rotations provide excellent training benefits for both forces and present a unique opportunity for the Australian Defence Force and the U.S. Marines to train together, preparing them for the types of operations they are conducting together in the Middle East,” the Australian Defence Department said in a statement.
The Marine Corps has been sending troops on six-month rotations to Darwin since 2012. The number of Marines heading there has steadily increased with the goal of expanding the deployment to a 2,500-strong Air-Ground Task Force.
Last year’s rotation, which wrapped up in September, kicked off with Predator Walk, an Australian-led exercise at Mount Bundey Training Area. Marines then joined Talisman Saber alongside 30,000 U.S. and Australian, New Zealand and Japanese troops across Australia.
Marines also deployed out of Darwin for training in East Timor and Tonga, and they participated in Crocodile Strike, another exercise with the Australians at Mount Bundey.
A recently published Defence White Paper called the alliance with the U.S. among Australia’s highest priorities.
“Through activities such as [bilateral training] we will continue to broaden and deepen the alliance,” the Australian defense statement said.