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Marine Rotational Force - Darwin (MRF-D)
Special Purpose Marine Air Ground Task Force - Darwin (SPMAGTF-Darwin)

The mission of Marine Rotational Force - Darwin (MRF-D) and the Special Purpose Marine Air Ground Task Force - Darwin (SPMAGTF-Darwin) is to bolster US theater engagement in the Asia-Pacific region. In addition to expanding military-to-military ties and combined training engagements, the Marines would also also help expand US disaster relief capabilities in Southeast Asia.

President Barack Obama joined Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard announced on 16 November 2011 that a decision had been made to expand military-to-military relationships between the 2 countries. Speaking at a joint news conference in the Australian capital of Canberra, the leaders announced closer collaboration between the US Marine Corps and Air Force and the Australian Defense Force. This effort followed President Obama's call in 2011 for a strategic pivot of US defense posture toward the Asia-Pacific following the drawdown of US forces from Afghanistan and Iraq. To the end, beginning in mid-2012, company-size rotations of 200 to 250 Marines would begin deploying near Darwin in Australias Northern Territory for 6-month rotations. The presence was then expected to expand to a force of 2,500 over the next several years.

The first deployment of Marine Rotational Forces to Darwin, Australia (also referred to a Marine Rotational Forces - Darwin; MRF-D) occurred from 3 April to 25 September 2012. Special Purpose Marine Air Ground Task Force - Darwin (SPMAGTF-Darwin) was based at Robertson Barracks on the outskirts of Darwin in Australia's Northern Territory. The Forward Coordination Element (FCE) of SPMAGTF-Darwin was augmented by a Ground Combat Element (GCE) composed of Marines from F Company, 2nd Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment. The first rotation consisted of about 200 Marines. Based at Australia's Robertson Barracks outside Darwin, the inaugural rotation laid important groundwork for follow-on rotations, working through the logistical and administrative requirements and launching new training programs. Initially the training focused on basic, company-level sustainment training, but expanded to include regional outreach during the Cooperation Afloat Readiness and Training 2012 exercise, hosted by Malaysia, Indonesia, and Thailand.

F/2/3rd Marines, who departed in fall 2012, were subsequently replaced by a new contingent led by L Company, 3rd Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment, who took up the role as the GCE for SPMAGTF-Darwin. This second rotation of about 250 Marines arrived in Australia in April 2013, building on initial progress with more bilateral activities in Australia and platoon-level engagements in New Zealand and Tonga. Among the highlights was a deployment to Australia's 3,300-square-mile Bradshaw Field Training Area, a premier training environment about 400 miles from Darwin. There, the rotational Marines, joined by about 750 members of the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit, conducted Exercise Koolendong 2013 with the Royal Australian Regiment's 5th Battalion. The training, the first of its kind for Marine Rotational Force Darwin, included maneuver, mounted and dismounted operations, a vertical assault scenario and a 6-day live-fire exercise. It served as a proof of concept that affirmed the range's capacity to support battalion-sized, live-fire events.

In fall 2013, the second rotation of Marines from L/3/3rd Marines departed Australia, setting conditions for a far larger rotation to arrive next spring. The next rotational element was planned to consist of a battalion-sized Marine Air-Ground Task Force of about 1,150 Marines is expected to deploy to Darwin, complete with an infantry battalion, logistics, and aviation detachment. Most of those Marines were expected to be based at Robertson Barracks, but the planned 130-member aviation support contingent and 4 medium-lift helicopters would operate from Royal Australian Air Force's Base Darwin. In the fall of 2013, planners evaluated what other temporary structures might be needed to accommodate the incoming rotation.




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