On November 16, Australia celebrated a decade of expanded cooperation between the Australian Department of Defence and the United States Department of Defense through two Force Posture Initiatives (FPI): Marine Rotational Force – Darwin (MRF-D) and Enhanced Air Cooperation (EAC).
CAPTION: The 2016 rotation of the United States Marine Rotational Force – Darwin begin to arrive in Darwin. Photo by Able Seaman Kayla Hayes.
The USFPI are an extension of Australia’s existing Defence relationship with the US and support the common interest of promoting regional security and stability.
The MRF-D has grown in size and complexity since the first rotation of US Marines through Darwin in 2012. In 2019, the goal of 2500 US Marines training with the ADF stationed in Darwin was reached.
The structure of MRF-D continues to evolve in response to the changing environment and advances in technology, with the focus shifting to capability rather than numbers. Highly complex joint training scenarios are now being executed, which continue to challenge our forces and better prepare us to rapidly respond in the region, if and when called upon to do so.
This year, about 2200 US Marines and sailors conducted a comprehensive range of training activities, including humanitarian assistance, security operations and high-end, live-fire exercises – exercises that develop enhanced interoperability between the ADF and US Marines and key partners.
These deployments also offer a valuable opportunity to develop working relationships with other government agencies, including the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade; the Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment; and the Australian Border Force.
The EAC has deepened air-to-air integration between the ADF and US air elements, particularly in the areas of maintenance, logistics, refuelling, aeromedical evacuation, and advanced warfighting.
Investments by Australia and the US in a range of infrastructure projects that support USFPI activities in the Northern Territory have benefitted local businesses, with several winning multimillion dollar contracts for the development of key infrastructure, including modular accommodation and aircraft maintenance facilities.
At AUSMIN in September 2021, Australia and the US announced the agreement to enhance US force posture cooperation in Australia in four key areas to:
- establish an integrated logistics capability
- expand existing enhanced air cooperation
- enhance maritime sustainment cooperation
- evolve bilateral and multilateral operations and exercises.
These new areas of cooperation will increase interoperability and deepen alliance activities in the Indo-Pacific.
To read more about the USFPI, visit: defence.gov.au/Initiatives/USFPI.