Marine units from Camp Pendleton and Marine Air Ground Combat Station Twentynine Palms have deployed to Australia after initial plans to leave in March were delayed due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The Marines and sailors – who are part of Marine Rotational Force-Darwin – will train with the Australian Defense Force in live-fire and advanced ground- and air-combat training.
Exercises will take place throughout Australia’s Northern Territory, specifically in the Kangaroo Flats and the Mt Bundy training area, and are expected to last through September. The area is known for its austere Outback desert and high cliffs.
The units are deploying as part of the Marine Corps Forces Pacific.
The Australian government approved the deployment after a rotation in late March was postponed by virus concerns. The mutual training was modified in size from about 2,500 to 1,200 participants.
“Australia is a key tactical ally and close security partner,” Lt. Col. Chis Perrine, spokesman for Marine Corps Forces Pacific, said. “President (Barrack) Obama and Prime Minister (Julia) Gillard agreed to Marine Rotational Force-Darwin in 2011 and the first rotation was conducted in 2012. It has been an important part of our security relations.”
“Anytime you give Marines different locations, terrain and different wildlife, it creates a learning opportunity,” he said.
The majority of the units deployed come from the 1st Marine Expeditionary Force based at Camp Pendleton; others come from the 2nd Marine Expeditionary Force based at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina.
The units include troops from the 1st Marine Expeditionary Force, including units from 1st Marine Division, 1st Marine Logistics Group and 1st Marine Aircraft Wing, which is based in Japan. The units are organized as a Marine Air-Ground Task Force, which includes a command element, ground combat element, aviation element and a logistics combat element.
Infantry units from the 1st Marine Division include the 3rd Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment and an artillery battalion; 3rd Battalion, 11th Marine Regiment. Both units are based at Twentynine Palms. Troops from Camp Pendleton include the 1st Combat Engineer Battalion, 1st Marine Logistics Group, and Combat Logistics Battalion 5.
Before units can begin training, the entire group will undergo mandatory pre-travel screening before arriving at Royal Australian Air Force Base Darwin, Perrine said. Once in Australia, each Marine will be screened and tested for the coronavirus before being quarantined for 14 days at specially prepared facilities in the Darwin area.
Each Marine will be re-tested before starting training. Marines and sailors will also adhere to social distancing and strict compliance with all Australia’s health guidelines.
Source: Orange County Register