ROBERTSON BARRACKS, DARWIN, Australia --
About 150 Marines and Sailors of Company F, Battalion Landing Team 2nd Battalion, 7th Marines, 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit arrived here recently to participate in bilateral live-fire training in the Australian terrain.
The 31st MEU training exercise is being hosted by the Australian Army 1st Brigade.
"The 31st MEU looks forward to the partnership with Australia and their military forces,” said Col. Andrew MacMannis, commanding officer, 31st MEU. “This exercise increases our readiness and advances regional security in the Pacific. We look forward to validating our combat readiness and interoperability.”
The U.S. Marines will use the Australian Defence Force high-tech computer-aided shooting ranges at several locations around Darwin for their training.
“We have found the ranges here in Darwin to be top notch and we are looking forward to using them,” said Capt. John A. Dalby, Fox Co. Commander, BLT 2/7, 31st MEU, of Annapolis, Md. “The Australian support has been fantastic, they are excited we are here, and we are equally excited to partner with them.”
In addition to standard infantry battalion members, Company F also brought a sniper detachment, logistics specialist and ammunition technician, who all bring additional capability.
As the U.S. Marines and Sailors arrived at the range areas, they worked side-by-side with Australian Defence Force members to unload equipment and set up the range.
“We can use this range to train for all types of various situations,” said Australian Warrant Officer Peter Carthew, range officer, Robertson Barraks Training Area. “It is always good to learn new and different skills and know how other nations work, especially as coalition partners. I believe that the north of Australia replicates the heat and the harsh conditions of many areas of the world. Any training we do here is going to help us all.”
ADF members also provided medical coverage as the Marines trained, standing by in case of any unexpected events.
The visiting Marines will focus on two primary goals, said Dalby. First, they will utilize the Australian’s computer-enhanced range systems in order to increase individual marksmanship proficiency. Secondly, Marines are scheduled to practice live-fire and maneuver exercises as they progress with the training schedule.
Both day and night training events are scheduled, which helps maintain the service members’ proficiency in different situations.
“The 1st Brigade is a really great organization,” said Dalby. “We are looking forward to working with and learning from each other.”
This training increases the collective understanding of partnership between the Australian Army 1st Brigade and the 31st MEU, according to Dalby.
“I am having a blast here so far. The Aussies are very friendly, nice people, and this is a beautiful country,” said Cpl. Geoffrey Miller, company police sergeant, 22, of Panama City, Fla. “I am hoping to sharpen my individual marksmanship. We also want to get out there and work as a platoon to see what we’ve got to work on and get ready for our next deployment.”
The 31st MEU is the only continually forward-deployed MEU, and remains the United States’ force-in-readiness in the Asia-Pacific region.