News: The Marines are back
Story by Sgt. Sarah Fiocco
ROYAL AUSTRALIAN AIR FORCE BASE DARWIN, Australia - Approximately 200 Marines with Lima Company, 3rd Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment, arrived aboard RAAF Base Darwin from Marine Corps Base Hawaii, as part of the second iteration of Marine Rotational Force – Darwin, April 21.
As the Marines stepped off a Boeing 737, they were met with a handshake from US Ambassador, Jeffrey Bleich.
“We have a terrific group. They’re excited to serve with their Aussie mates,” said Bleich. “I shook all their hands, and I’ll tell you, they’re big and they’re very strong. They’ve got some big grips. I’m going to have to ice my hand later.”
Last week, Bleich met with Darwin government officials, who expressed their enthusiasm for the return of the Corps’ presence in the Northern Territory.
“The only people I’ve seen who are as excited [as the Marines] tonight are the people here in Darwin,” said Bleich. “They are particularly looking forward to having the Marines back in town.”
During their six-month deployment, the Marines will conduct unilateral and bilateral training at Australian Defence Force facilities in the Northern territory and will participate in other training evolutions in New Zealand and Australia.
“I think all the Marines are looking forward to training with the Australians,” said 1st Lt. Richard Aronson, executive officer, Lima Co., 3rd Bn., 3rd Marine Regiment. “I’m happy to be here, and I can’t wait to learn more about our Australian counterparts.”
The bilateral training initiative launched after a mutual agreement to establish a Marine presence in Darwin, which was announced by President Barack Obama and Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard in November 2011.
“We’ve been allies for years, so this initiative strengthens an already-robust relationship by working together and learning from each other,” said Lt. Col. Matthew Puglisi, officer in charge, Marine Rotational Force – Darwin, Marine Corps Forces Pacific. “In addition, it provides increasing opportunities for combined arms training and deepening interoperability between the Marine Corps and Australian Defence Force.”
The first of many bilateral training exercises is scheduled to take place in early May aboard Robertson Barracks.
“Conducting bilateral and unilateral training enhances our ability to operate with our allies and partners across the region,” said Puglisi. “The close proximity to South East Asia also enables us to train more effectively with the region and respond more rapidly to humanitarian and natural disasters.”
Not only will the Marines work with their Australian counterparts during their six months here, but they will also participate in a number of community-outreach programs.
“We want to be active members in the community. Being part of the community is the only way to develop those strong ties,” Puglisi explained. “The community loves the Marines and last years events established that bond. This year will further-strengthen those relationships.”