News: Hamel 2014: Orchestrating combat readiness
Story by Cpl. Scott Reel
TOWNSVILLE, Queensland, Australia – Marines with Marine Rotational Force - Darwin are acting as opposing forces here during Exercise Hamel, the Australian Army's combat readiness evaluation, throughout the month of July, 2014.
Exercise Hamel provides an excellent opportunity for MRF-D to train with Australian Army units in a unique and challenging environment during the course of their six-month rotation.
Lt. Col. Keven Matthews, commanding officer of 1st Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment, MRF-D, said their Australian partners are extraordinarily flexible and really want to achieve the same objectives as the Marines, and that the mission has progressed further than he had anticipated at the current point in the rotation.
The two companies of Marines participating in the exercise represent a variety of forces throughout the month: insurgents, indigenous security forces and a conventional opposing force.
Brig. Mark Brewer, director general of training for Headquarters Forces Command, oversees the entire exercise and its many components.
“From an exercise director’s perspective, Hamel has been very positive,” he said. “Flexibility has been shown all around. Obviously there are a lot of moving parts in an exercise with 5,000 people, but we’ve worked together very well. I think the Marines that have visited here have had a good time. They’ve had a chance to visit Townsville, locally, and now they’re working pretty hard out in the bush.”
Although Exercise Hamel provides opportune training environments and obstacles for both forces, MRF-D’s close involvement with the Australian Force is just as important to the mission.
“For MRF-D, this exercise meets one of our primary objectives, which is to increase the combat interoperability between Marine and Australian forces,” Matthews said. “In that regard, I think we have exceeded my expectations. With the 2nd battalion of the Royal Australian Regiment we have conducted integrated planning for the last two weeks, we’ve cross-attached companies and platoons from U.S. to Australian and vice versa, so I think we have met a high level of interoperability between 2 RAR and 1/5.”
For the ADF, an opposing force such as the Marine Corps offers one of the best opportunities to evaluate combat readiness and capability.
“What we’ve tried to do is put together a complete picture for the combat brigade to deal with,” Brewer said. “The Marines have been essential in each of those steps, so whether it’s been a credible host-nation security force or now a potent opposing force, they’ve helped us really achieve a level of complexity that if we worked alone we wouldn’t be able to.”
For both militaries, an increase in combat capability and interoperability with each other has become a rhythm and a task that has only gotten easier throughout MRF-D’s six month rotation.
“We have a long history working with the United States, the Marine Corps particularly,” Brewer said. “We have a level of respect I think for each other. We use common terms, we have similar standards, and we share values and deep down that’s what helps us work effectively here together.”
As Exercise Hamel 2014 comes to an end, the integrated planning fluency and combat efficiency of both forces will be showcased at Exercise Koolendong, MRF-D’s largest exercise during their rotation.