Exercise Koolendong 2021 Combined Task Force 667 has taken on the Indigenous name of the fifth-brightest star in the Southern Cross constellation – Ginan.
Pronounced “Gee-nan”, the story behind the name includes a process of trading songs to verify friends before a ceremony.
Headquarters 1st Brigade Chief of Staff Lieutenant Colonel Mike Webbe thought the name was fitting for the Marine Rotational Force – Darwin and ADF Combined Task Force to represent the trusted relationship between US and Australian forces built during a decade of training together in Australia.
“Our aim during Exercise Koolendong is to further integrate our people, their skills and equipment, each year,” LTCOL Webbe said.
“Ginan is a perfect fit to encompass our long-standing, continued relationship.”
The star, located 228 light years away, was accorded the Aboriginal name Ginan in 2018 by the International Astronomical Union. In the dreamtime lore of the Wardaman people, the star represents a red dilly bag filled with songs of knowledge, traded between trusted people to verify their friendship.
“When I learnt the story being the star’s name, I couldn’t think of a better way to honour our First Nation’s People, and the country we train on, while highlighting what we are doing here alongside the US marines and sailors,” LTCOL Webbe said.
The Wardaman people’s ancestral country is 145km south-west of Katherine in the Northern Territory.
The Southern Cross constellation is worn on the left shoulder of the ADF uniform and emblazoned on the unit logo of the Marine Rotational Force.
CTF Ginan is a fully integrated headquarters of both forces, exercising command decisions during fictitious battles, all while the administration, movement and support is coordinated at a forward operating base called ‘Gwion’.
Pronounced Gee-on, it was chosen by exercise control staff for its relevance to the landscape within the Bradshaw Field Training Area, relating to a traditional style of Indigenous rock painting found in Northern Australia.
An escarpment winds through the training area from the south-west to the north-east for more than 70 kilometres. Ancient artwork adorns the rock faces throughout the 870,000-hectare training area, which are protected sacred sites.
This is the first time an exercise of this size has occurred in the area, with the combined force able to extend its lines of communication, exploit surveillance data from unmanned aerial systems, and integrate long-range weapons serials during the culminating activity for the 10th Marine Rotational Force.