The Australian Defence Force (ADF) and the United States Marine Rotational Force-Darwin (MRF-D), completed training on Friday August 25, 2017 for the exercise Crocodile Strike.
The exercise was part of the U.S. Force Posture Initiatives, which was announced in 2011. An extension of the Australia’s and the United States’ defense relationship, the program sought to increase military readiness in humanitarian assistance, disaster relief capability and generally enhance interoperability between Australia and the U.S.
Training also benefited the indigenous community at South Goulburn Island in the Arafura Sea off the coast of Northern Territory, Australia.
“We are very appreciative of the Warruwi Indigenous Community for allowing access to their island home to complete this component of the exercise. Conducting the best possible exercises helps us get the most out of the US Force Posture Initiatives. Importantly, exercises such as Crocodile Strike prepare the ADF and US Marines to respond together to crises, such as environmental and humanitarian disasters, which we know are a feature of our Indo-Pacific region,” said Capt. Bryan Parker, deputy commander of Northern Command.
For the exercise Crocodile Strike itself, it is a scenario where a natural disaster hits an island north of Australia. The two-phase endeavor sought to first restore stability to the area, and then provide humanitarian assistance to the people. Tasks included providing potable drinking water and creating supply lines to distribute goods.
While stationed on the island, ADF and U.S. Marine troops repaired and replaced facilities and infrastructure and provided some medical support to the Warruwi Indigenous Community in exchange for opening their island home to training exercises.
“There’s really two things the soldiers and marines gain from this one,” said U.S. Marine Maj. Luke Adkins, “The capability to exercise their specific MOS’s, or understand additional MOS’s adjacent to them, as well as be able to broaden themselves and understand culturally what’s going on in other parts of the world.”
Annual rotations for U.S. Marines at Darwin, located about 300 km east of South Goulburn Island, began in 2012 as part of the Force Posture Initiatives.
“Marines compete to deploy to Australia, not only for the world-class training, but also the camaraderie of our ADF counterparts and local community members. I know the Commander of the 2018 rotation is looking forward to getting down here!” said Lieutenant Colonel Brian Middleton, commander of the 2017 MRF-D.
The 2017 Marine rotation will conclude in October, but planning is already underway for next year’s rotation, scheduled to commence around March/April 2018.