Approximately 2,000 Marines and sailors deployed to Australia’s Northern Territory this week to participate alongside their counterparts in the annual iteration of Marine Rotational Force-Darwin, the Pentagon announced today.

“Over the next six months, MRF-Darwin will conduct a series of exercises and training events with the Australian Defense Force and other regional allies and partners to establish a forward-postured crisis response force, enhance interoperability between our forces, and contribute to a more stable and secure Indo-Pacific,” Pentagon Press Secretary Air Force Maj. Gen. Pat Ryder told the media during a briefing today. 

Led for the third year in a row by a California-based Marine Corps infantry regiment, this will be the 13th annual iteration of MRF-Darwin, according to a news release sent out by MRF-Darwin’s media team today. 

MRF-Darwin dates back to 2011, when former President Barack Obama and then-Prime Minister Julia Gillard announced an agreement on force posture initiatives designed to significantly enhance defense cooperation between the U.S. and Australia. While the initial iteration consisted of only a small liaison element and a company of 250 Marines, the agreement intended to “establish a rotational presence of up to a 2,500-person Marine Air Ground Task Force,” according to White House archives. 

“The Marines and sailors of Marine Rotational Force-Darwin are honored and excited to continue the legacy of cooperation and interoperability with our Australian Defense Force brothers and sisters,” Marine Corps Col. Brian T. Mulvihill, the commanding officer of MRF-Darwin, stated in the news release. “Our strong alliance contributes to stability in the region and enables the readiness of our forces to respond to any crisis or contingency that arises.”

This year’s MRF-Darwin will model itself on prior iterations by incorporating “security partners from throughout the Pacific Islands and the broader region” into the exercise schedule, according to the release. 

MRF-Darwin’s rotation is scheduled to conclude in October.

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