The largest contingent of Marines to head to Australian on a rotational deployment marked the end of their six month stay Down Under with a three-week training exercise in a remote area of the Outback.
Marine Rotational Force— Darwin trained with members of the Australian Defence Force for two weeks in August during Exercise Koolendong. The training took place at the expansive Bradshaw Field Training Area in northern Australia.
While both militaries deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan, they operated independently of one another. Exercise Koolendong, held at a massive range in an unforgiving part of the continent, gave the troops a chance to practice live fire and close air support.
“There’s still a lot to learn in conventional operations,” said Maj. Nathan Fleischaker, the operations officer for MRF— Darwin.
About 1,250 Marines with MRF— Darwin participated in Koolendong alongside about 320 Australian troops from Aug. 10 through 26. The training events involved a mass casualty drill, improvised explosive training for combat engineers, helicopter and ground live-fire exercises, and a five-day continuous-fire, combined-arms event.
The joint operations Marines and Australians practiced during Koolendong weren’t common in the recent campaigns in Iraq and Afghanistan, Fleischaker said, so the militaries are learning new ways to work together. The Australians provided artillery fire on the Marines’ behalf, he said. They also provided tank and close-air support.