The Australian Government has decided not to proceed with the 2020 Marine Rotational Force – Darwin (MRF-D) deployment at this time, given ongoing restrictions associated with COVID-19.
The MRF–D initiative involves the annual rotation of U.S. Marines through Northern Australia for approximately six months during the dry season. While in Australia, the MRF–D undertakes a range of activities including training unilaterally and with the Australian Defence Force (ADF) and other Indo–Pacific nations.
“Australia will work with the United States to devise options for a possible later deployment, subject to conditions improving and the viability of such a deployment proceeding. Any decision in relation to the 2020 MRF-D in no way affects Australia’s commitment to host next year’s, or subsequent, MRF-D rotations”, said a statement from Australian Minister for Defence Linda Reynolds.
The MRF–D initiative has grown in size and complexity since the first rotation of 200 U.S. Marines in 2012. The 2019 rotation consisted of 2,500 US Marines and is the most capable to date, including a High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS), advanced TPS–80 radar system and an Aviation Combat Element including MV–22 Osprey tiltrotor aircraft and UH/AH–1 helicopters.
The MRF–D 2019 rotation also included an enhanced Command Element headed by a Colonel, a Ground Combat Element and a Logistics Combat Element. This deployment provided opportunities to further deepen interoperability with the ADF.