News: MRF-D main body warmly welcomed to the Top End
Story by Cpl. Scott Reel
DARWIN, Northern Territory, Australia - U.S. and Australian leaders shake hands with the first Marines from the Ground Combat Element, Marine Rotational Force – Darwin, to enter the country, completing the Marine Air-Ground Task Force capability here for six months, April 3.
Australian facilities on Robertson Barracks and Royal Australian Air Force’s Base Darwin will accommodate MRF-D Marines during their time out of the field.
Maj. Jacob Evans, executive officer of MRF-D, said even after living in five different countries, working as a general’s aid and serving on a North Atlantic Treaty Organization staff, twice; the MRF-D welcoming was one of the most professional gatherings he’d ever seen.
“The Australians and the Australian military are absolutely professionals through and through,” Evans said. “We very much look forward to working with them and learning from them. The way they conduct business has been exquisite.”
The third MRF-D rotation of Marines is the first to be MAGTF capable, making history in Australia and presenting productive training opportunities for both the Marine Corps and Australian Defence Force.
“Being part of history is something that every person wants to be a part of, especially a service member serving his or her country,” Evans said. “Being able to write history is one of the greatest accomplishments you could ever have.”
Commodore Brenton Smyth, commander, Headquarters Northern Command, stood next to Lt. Col. Matthew Puglisi, officer-in-charge, Forward Coordination Element, MRF-D, as the first Marines departed the aircraft and shook hands with Australian military leaders.
“It’s great to see the Marines out here coming down and using our exercise areas,” Smyth said. “It also gives us the opportunity, especially this third rotation, to expand into the MAGTF capability and expand our cooperation and interoperability with the U.S.”
Australia and the U.S have fought alongside each other in nearly every major conflict since World War II, a relationship the Australian prime minister and U.S. president make sure remains strong and productive.
“It’s a great initiative that the U.S. president and our prime minister came up with, and we certainly relish the opportunity to interoperate and gain that higher level of experience from operating with the Marines,” Smyth said.
A smile sat below the eyes of every Marine exiting the plane to be welcomed into Darwin, their new home for the next six months.
“The marines are absolutely thrilled to be here. I’ve never seen a happier group of people arriving for a deployment in my life,” Evans said. “I can’t say enough good things about the morale of the unit.”