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U.S. Marines with Marine Rotational Force-Darwin 22, members of the Australian Defence Force, and Indonesian forces fly in an MV-22 Osprey during Exercise Crocodile Response 22 in Nhulunbuy, NT, Australia, May 17, 2022. Exercise Crocodile Response trains MRF-D, the ADF and Indonesian forces to provide humanitarian assistance and disaster relief in the Indo-Pacific region.

Photo by Cpl. Cameron Hermanet

MRF-D Combines with the Australian Defence Force and Tentara Nasional Indonesia to Exercise Humanitarian Assistance Cooperation in the Indo-Pacific

24 May 2022 | Capt. Joseph DiPietro and 1st Lt. John Stuart Marine Rotational Force - Darwin

Marine Rotational Force-Darwin participated in Exercise CROCODILE RESPONSE 22, a tri-lateral humanitarian assistance exercise featuring Marines and Sailors with MRF-D, Australian Defence Force members, and Indonesian National Armed Forces personnel, along with multiple civilian organizations and assets from May 9 – May 20.

CROCODILE RESPONSE 22 featured exercise participation from TNI personnel, a welcome addition to the event as TNI and other Indonesian organizations consistently lead HA operations around the Indo-Pacific.

“TNI Headquarters sent 35 of its best soldiers to take part in the Joint Exercise,” said Lt. Rudy Hernawan, the public affairs officer for the TNI contingent. “In addition to the military, the exercise involved several non-governmental civilian institutions to participate in the exercise.”

Led by Headquarters, Northern Command here in the Northern Territory of Australia, the exercise design incorporated real-world disaster scenarios to push the combined exercise force into a crisis response posture. Utilizing both local Darwin locations and the township of Nhulunbuy, CROCODILE RESPONSE 22 challenged the MRF-D, ADF, and TNI contingent to provide humanitarian support in response to a simulated tropical cyclone.

“Exercise CROCODILE RESPONSE 22 was designed to provide an opportunity for Australia, the United States, and Indonesia to practice a partnered response to a humanitarian crisis.” lead ADF planner, Capt. Pietro Ruggeri

“By bringing together military and civilian organisations from each nation, we were able to build the processes and relationships to better help our mates in the region. I believe the exercise provided commanders, staff, soldiers, and Marines the experience they need to understand their role in Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief operations,” said lead ADF planner, Capt. Pietro Ruggeri.

The exercise was split into three parts over the nearly two week period.

The first few days consisted of academic instruction, where the most experienced HA professionals, including the U.S. Bureau for Humanitarian Assistance, the Australia Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, and the Indonesian BASARNAS search and rescue team, briefed the exercise force on best HA practices and procedures.

The next phase consisted of a table-top-exercise, where the exercise force transitioned the academic information into action through a series of planning events and scenarios to better understand HA operations. This phase featured cooperation between USMC, ADF, and TNI personnel integrated within each other’s planning cells to better combine efforts from the entire contingent.

"The Indo-Pacific requires thorough logistics planning to execute HA operations due to long ranges and significant over-water transportation,” MRF-D logistics officer Maj. Stephanie Hebda noted. “The MRF-D MAGTF provides tremendous logistics flexibility, but the addition of the ADF, TNI, and our civilian partners greatly increases our ability to provide support to the region."

The final phase of the exercise, the field training exercise, involved the Australian, Indonesian, and U.S. contingents transporting personnel, equipment, and resources from Darwin to Nhulunbuy, approximately 340 nautical miles east of the Northern Territory’s capital. This effort consisted of supporting the simulated population with food and water, shelter, and protection following the notional natural disaster.

Lance Cpl. Tristan McClain, a motor transportation operator with Combat Logistics Battalion 5, emphasized the great learning opportunity CROCODILE RESPONSE offered the Marines while working with partnered forces.

“Being around different forces teaches you a lot. We asked each other questions about gear and the process of providing HA. We are pretty similar, but we each have our own slang and sharing it was a lot of fun.”

Humanitarian assistance is a priority skill set of MRF-D. Including bordering nations, the Indo-Pacific theater hosts nearly half of the world’s population, and is the target of around 70 percent of the world’s natural disasters. MRF-D’s ability to provide rapid support in response to a natural disaster is a significant way the MAGTF is postured to support the Indo-Pacific region.

"It was a great experience to work and plan alongside our ADF, TNI, and civilian organization partners to build and complete Exercise CROCODILE RESPONSE 22,” said MRF-D assistant operations officer, Maj. Bret Waters, who served as the lead U.S. planner for the exercise. “MRF-D learned an incredible amount from our partnered forces with regard to humanitarian assistance, and we are better postured now to support crisis response across the region."

In addition to the tri-lateral exercise cooperation, CROCODILE RESPONSE 22 introduced a joint aspect to the HA efforts. U.S. 7th Fleet's USS ASHLAND, a Whidbey Island-class dock landing ship, joined the exercise force this year to enhance expeditionary HA capabilities from the sea, and demonstrate the U.S. Navy's ability to support U.S. allies and partners in the Indo-Pacific. Alongside the USS ASHLAND, an ADF mechanized landing craft performed ship-to-shore and ship-to-ship transportation tasks in support of CROCODILE RESPONSE.

For questions regarding this story, please contact the Marine Rotational Force-Darwin media inquiry email address at MRFDMedia@usmc.mil. Imagery from this rotation and previous can be found at dvidshub.net/unit/MRF-D.


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