United States Marines from the tenth Marine Rotational Force – Darwin (MRF-D) will soon begin arriving in Darwin. They are the first group arriving in the Northern Territory over the next five months. Each group to arrive will be between 200-500 personnel.
Minister for Defence, Senator the Hon Linda Reynolds CSC said the rotation would build on the success of last year’s modified deployment.
“The ability for this year’s MRF-D to go ahead under challenging global circumstances, is a testament to the endurance and adaptability of the Australia-US Alliance,” Minister Reynolds said.
“The annual rotation demonstrates Australia’s and the United States’ commitment to Indo-Pacific stability and security.
“The MRF-D and Australian Defence Force (ADF) will conduct a comprehensive range of training activities, including humanitarian assistance, security operations and high-end live-fire exercises.
“COVID-19 permitting, the ADF and MRF-D will also train with partner countries throughout the year, including exercise Talisman Sabre. These opportunities are a priority for the US Force Posture Initiatives, developing people-to-people links, interoperability and the sharing of expertise.”
A total of around 2,200 personnel will arrive in Darwin by June.
The procedures for managing the MRF-D’s arrival, quarantine and possible cases of COVID-19 have been developed and agreed in full consultation with NT Health authorities and will strictly adhere to all Australian Government requirements to mitigate the risk of COVID-19.
Measures in place include:
- A comprehensive COVID-19 risk management plan, agreed to by the Northern Territory Chief Health Officer;
- All US personnel undergoing COVID-19 testing within 72 hours of departure for Australia and presenting a negative result before boarding;
- All US personnel completing mandatory 14-day quarantine, including COVID-19 testing on arrival in Australia and again before exiting quarantine; and
- MRF-D and ADF medical personnel monitoring the health of personnel.
To accommodate the US Marines this year, the MRF-D has leased a secure facility outside Darwin for the majority of personnel to complete the mandatory 14-day quarantine. However, the first two groups will quarantine in isolated accommodation on a Defence base.
The use of the leased facility and Defence base will ensure the MRF-D’s arrival has no impact on repatriating Australians from overseas, which remains a key national priority for the Australian Government.
“Northern Territory Chief Minister Michael Gunner and I have discussed the extensive arrangements that have been put in place to manage the risk of COVID-19. I have also reaffirmed the Morrison Government’s commitment to Defence investment in the Northern Territory,” Minister Reynolds said.
“I thank the Northern Territory Government for their continued support in facilitating these strategically important activities for our nation.”
The extent of COVID-19 mitigations implemented underscores the seriousness with which the Australian, Northern Territory and US Governments are prioritising the health and safety of all Australians.
“Additionally, this year marks 10 years since the United States Force Posture Initiatives were announced by Australia and the United States, and 70 years of the ANZUS treaty. During my discussions with Secretary Austin last week, I conveyed that my focus for this year included progressing bilateral force posture initiatives,” Minister Reynolds said.
The MRF-D’s arrival will have no impact on the return of Australians from overseas, and Defence is working closely with other relevant government agencies to ensure no disruption to repatriation efforts.