DARWIN, Australia — Marine Rotational Force-Darwin (MRF-D) has inhabited the Northern Territory for over a decade now. MRF-D 22 strives to build on strong local community foundations from past rotations.
“I’ve been on a few deployments and visited a few countries, and I can say with confidence that I’ve never received a warmer welcome than coming to Australia,” said MRF-D Commander Colonel Chris Steele, who leads the 11th rotation. of the Navy Air Ground Task Force (MAGTF). “We really feel like a part of this city and will work to ensure the same experience applies to our follow-up rotations.”
One of the priorities of the MRF-D 22 MAGTF is to strengthen and strengthen alliances and partnerships with Australia and other Indo-Pacific countries. An important part of any alliance is the cultural relationship between the countries. MRF-D has a history of community interaction and support for the local people of Darwin, and this year’s rotation builds on that strong cultural connection.
“The Marines aren’t just here to train, they’re really part of the Darwin community,” said Brigadier Nick Foxall, commander of the 1st Brigade based in the Northern Territory, and close friend of MRF-D. 22. “We greatly enjoy not only working with MRF-D and training with them, but also living alongside them as part of the NT family.
MRF-D is honored by the local community with opportunities to support local events, such as the ANZAC Day Parade, sporting events and school support activities throughout the rotation. MRF-D staff also participate in local entertainment and hospitality during the dry season, such as local markets, concerts, and interaction with museums.
“We are always looking for ways to support the local community and want to make sure we give back the kindness of Australia in everything we do,” said Lieutenant Commander Kevin Wilkinson, the MRF-D 22 chaplain. “We know that we are guests in this country and in Darwin and I want to treat our hosts with the same courtesy that they offer us during the rotation.”
MRF-D’s presence in Darwin supports the local community in several ways. Darwin, a city of around 150,000, sees its population increase by more than 1% every year when the MAGTF comes to town. This increase supports local businesses in addition to the personal impacts Marines and Sailors have in the Northern Territory.
The relationship extends far beyond defense-based ties. Last week, MRF-D hosted an Independence Day BBQ to celebrate the nation’s birthday, and due to strong community ties, important Darwin leaders joined in the event. The Chief Minister of the Northern Territory, the MP for Solomon and a large group of Australian Defense Force members and local leaders joined in the festivities to not only celebrate independence but also the close relationship between the MRF- D and the community.
“I really enjoyed attending the MRF-D Independence Day BBQ, or as it is called, BBQ. The event was the perfect opportunity to share some bevvies and have a thread with our naval colleagues and closest security ally,” said Australian Army Captain Jen Hogan, who is an element of essential support to MRF-D 22. “Being part of such a patriotic day has been a highlight of this posting, and I look forward to seeing the relationship between Australian and American forces grow stronger in the future.
In addition to the ceremonies, MRF-D 22 participated in several demonstrations, exhibits and community showcases during the rotation. Over the past two weeks Air Combat Element (ACE) MRF-D 22 has supported several air shows for the Australian community using the MV-22 Osprey. ACE also played an important role in community engagement days incorporated into both Exercise CROCODILE RESPONSE in May and Exercise DARRANDARRA in June, where Marines and Sailors with MRF-D along with ADF soldiers spent time with local families as part of the combined exercises.
“Being here and sharing our planes is really cool. We are constantly working to keep the plane in working order, performing missions and using our free time to study,” said Sergeant Juan Gutierrez, chief of staff. ACE team, “Seeing the smiles this aircraft brings to people’s faces is priceless, and it really gives meaning to what we do.”
For questions regarding this story, please contact the Navy Rotational Force – Darwin media request email address at [email protected] Images of this and previous rotations are available at dvidshub.net/unit/MRF-D.