ROYAL AUSTRALIAN AIR FORCE BASE DARWIN, Northern Territory, Australia --
Marines with Marine Rotational Force – Darwin took off to Bradshaw Field Training Area for Exercise Koolendong on four MV-22B Ospreys from Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 265, 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit, here, Aug. 28.
Exercise Koolendong is a bilateral training evolution in which Marines with Marine Rotational Force – Darwin and the 31st MEU will work with Australian soldiers from Bravo Company, 5th Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment from Aug. 31 to Sept. 5.
“It’s the first time that we’re actually going out to Bradshaw Field Training Area,” said Lt. Col. Matthew Puglisi, officer-in-charge, Forward Coordination Element, MRF-D. “It’s really our ‘proof of concept’ exercise. It’s allowing us to take a look at what we need and what we can actually do out there.”
The training evolution at BFTA took the Marines on 350-mile journey. That kind of travel distance required many months of preparation.
“For the past six months, we’ve been doing a lot of planning,” explained Puglisi. We’ve done two sight surveys, and we met with the traditional landowners. We also just completed the set up of four ranges.”
With approximately 1,000 Marines and Australian soldiers participating in Exercise Koolendong, service members will have the opportunity to use different training components.
“The infantry guys will be participating in dismounted and mounted attacks and will be backed up by close air support,” said Puglisi. “We’ll also have some light-armored vehicles conducting attacks on the objectives.”
MRF-D Marines have kept this training evolution in mind throughout their time at different Defence training locations in Australia.
“The whole deployment so far has been in preparation for going out to do complicated attacks like this at Bradshaw,” said Capt. Raymond L’Heureux, commanding officer, Lima Company, 3rd Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment, MRF-D. “Everything we’ve done at Kangaroo Flats Training Area and all the rehearsals we’ve done in between have been to do an exercise of this level.”
Exercise Koolendong is the culminating event of the 2013 Marine rotation Down Under.
“It’s the final event we have here for our deployment down in Australia,” said L’Heureux. “It’s a unique training opportunity. All in all, it’s going to be a good exercise.”