Soldiers from the ADF and Marines from the Marine Rotational Force – Darwin (MRF-D) recently completed a training exercise to enhance how both Australia and the United States can swiftly respond together to a crisis scenario in our region.

Exercise Darrandarra, facilitated by exercise planning and support staff from Headquarters Northern Command, took place in the Nhulunbuy region of Arnhem Land, part of the Gove peninsular in the Northern Territory. 

It involved rapidly deploying Marines to a simulated security-crisis scenario, embassy reinforcement and evacuation, more than 600km east of Darwin.

Exercise director Lieutenant Colonel Daniel Gosling coordinated the activity, which simulated the North West Mobile Force compound as the scenario-in-crisis facility.

“The exercise was a tangible demonstration of the ability of Australia and the United States to swiftly respond to a crisis scenario using unique capabilities brought together by each of the forces,” Lieutenant Colonel Gosling said. 

“The RAAF’s C-130Js and MRF-D’s MV-22 Ospreys provided the combined lift capability to insert and extract Marines and the Headquarters Northern Command planning team.

“It has been a terrific opportunity to test the ability of our forces to respond to a security crises in the region, with a focus on enhancing tactics, techniques and procedures and achieving mutual interoperability objectives between the ADF and United States Marine Corps.”

Exercise controller Lieutenant Bryce Williams said the training was a unique opportunity to build on the Defence connection to its First Nations peoples.

“The Australian Army has been part of the Arnhem Land community for almost 100 years,” Lieutenant Williams said. 

“The exercise was planned and conducted in consultation with community leaders and government stakeholders in the area.

“Having the opportunity to engage with the welcoming Nhulunbuy locals and the chance for our Marine colleagues to experience some Indigenous culture and ceremony was an equal highlight.”

Commander Headquarters Northern Command, Colonel Marcus Constable, welcomed the community interest in the exercise.

“The support from community leaders, Elders and other members was key to successfully conducting the exercise. Their support is acknowledged and appreciated,” Colonel Constable said. 

“The exercise concluded with a community event where Nhulunbuy locals were able to meet and interact with Marines and the ADF, as well as get up close with an MV-22 Osprey.”

The ADF and MRF-D acted in accordance with COVID-safe protocols in the Northern Territory, and all United States Marines were subject to strict screening and quarantine requirements before their entry into Australia, as well as health checks before participating in the exercise.

Australia's alliance with the United States is the most important defence relationship and this year marks 10 years since the United States Force Posture Initiatives were announced by Australia and the United States, as well as 70 years of the Australia, New Zealand and United States Security Treaty.