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Warfighting exercise strengthens US partnership


More than 2200 personnel from the Australian Defence Force (ADF) and US Armed Forces recently conducted Exercise Koolendong 2022, a combined arms littoral combat scenario across northern Australia.

The three-week warfighting exercise, led by the Marine Rotational Force – Darwin (MRF-D) and held at Yampi Sound Training Area and RAAF Base Curtin in Western Australia as well as Mount Bundey Training Area in the Northern Territory, simulated a joint response to a regional security crisis.

Australian Army Colonel Marcus Constable, Commander Headquarters Northern Command, said the annual exercise strengthened the Australia-US relationship and advanced and validated interoperability across warfighting functions.

“Koolendong demonstrated that the ADF and MRF-D can deploy combined tactical teams supported by joint capabilities across maritime and littoral environments, enabling force projection operations across significant distances to remote and austere environments,” Colonel Constable said.

“Participating force elements deployed over 1000km by land, sea and air to rehearse and confirm coalition command and control processes, coordination of strategic joint strike assets, logistics support and the sustainment of these deployed forces while training together.

“Our US alliance is the cornerstone of Australian security. Our relationship with the US only grows stronger the more we talk, work and train together.”

Two US Air Force B-2 Spirit Stealth Bombers assigned to the 509th Bomb Wing fly a Bomber Task Force mission alongside two RAAF F-35A Lightning II aircraft, over RAAF Base Curtin. Photo: US Technical Sergeant Dylan Nuckolls

For the first time, Exercise Koolendong integrated one of the US Army’s largest watercraft, USAV General Brehon B. Somervell (LSV-3) from the 8th Theatre Sustainment Command, which transported vehicles, equipment and cargo from Darwin across to the Kimberly Coast.

In another first, Exercise Koolendong integrated Australian Army and US Marine Corps joint terminal attack controllers with a bomber task force consisting of US Air Force B-2 Spirit Stealth bombers and RAAF F-35A Lightning IIs flying together as part of the Enhanced Air Cooperation United States Force Posture Initiative.

The MRF-D’s commanding officer, Colonel Christopher Steele, said Koolendong was the culminating exercise of the MRF-D rotation this year and demonstrated the potency of the Australian-US alliance.

“In my mind we have to be ready to fight right now with our Australian allies and our joint partners, and Exercise Koolendong provided us the opportunity to practise just that,” Colonel Steele said.

“The Australia-US Alliance has never been more important as we look ahead to our regional strategic challenges.”

The MRF-D is part of the United States Force Posture Initiatives which demonstrates the strength of the Australia-US Alliance and deep engagement with the Indo-Pacific region.

For further imagery go to the Defence image gallery.

US Marine Corps Lance Corporal Dexter Madrigal from Marine Rotational Force – Darwin 22 and Australian Army Private Daniel Rochford from 16th Battalion, Royal Western Australian Regiment, pose for a photograph under the stars at RAAF Base Curtin. Photo: Photo: US Corporal Cedar Barnes



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