Perhaps no U.S. military branch works as closely with Australia as the Marine Corps and previous cooperation during wartime has fostered a deep partnership between both sides. Today, however, it is mutual apprehension about China’s intentions in the Indo-Pacific that drives joint military training exercises and planning.
A statement from the Marine Corps explained the results of recent joint training exercises.
“As for Jungle Warfare Training, the Marines traveled to Tully, Queensland to learn at the Combat Training Centre-Jungle Training Wing Tully. 3rd Battalion, 7th Marines’ India Company, 2nd platoon, traveled over 1,000 miles from Darwin to learn a different set of skills,” the statement explained.
“The three-week training tested the Marines and the ADF in austere environments,” it added. “During the training, the Marines and ADF worked from squad level patrols through thick vegetation, to platoon level route reconnaissance and camp clearances. Towards the end, the Marines served as the advanced guard, denying anti-armor ambushes to allow Australian light-armored vehicles to conduct reconnaissance on a beach landing site.”
“Learning to move through the thick vegetation was challenging,” commented 1st Lt. Max Schlinker, India Company, 2nd platoon commander in the Marine Corps statement.
“It reduced our ability to maneuver through the terrain, especially at night. We identified the need to adapt our formations to maintain close control. And we conducted fire and movement more often than fire and maneuver.”
“We got to work with the B Squadron, 2/14 Light Horse Regiment throughout the training and that allowed us to get to know them very well. We established a good working relationship,” 1st Lieutenant Schlinker added.
Though the Marine Corps may best represent the personal nature of the U.S.-Australia relationship, both the U.S. Navy and Air Force are also deepening ties. America’s flying service recently stationed 20 percent of its B-2 stealth bomber fleet in Australia to increase interoperability. The White House also announced last year that Australia would join a new nuclear submarine cooperation pact with the United Kingdom called AUKUS.
The statement ended by discussing the future of the Marine Corps’ relationship with Australian forces. “MRF-D continues to explore more ways to work alongside Australia and other regional allies and partners,” the statement said. “The unique training increases readiness and the ability to respond to any crisis or contingency within the Indo-Pacific region.”
Caleb Larson is a multimedia journalist and defense writer with the National Interest. A graduate of UCLA, he also holds a Master of Public Policy and lives in Berlin. He covers the intersection of conflict, security, and technology, focusing on American foreign policy, European security, and German society for both print and radio. Follow him on Twitter @calebmlarson.