The Australian Defence Force (ADF), U.S. Marine Rotational Force – Darwin (MRF-D) and Indonesian National Armed Forces recently completed Exercise Crocodile to enhance trilateral coordinated response to humanitarian crises and provide disaster relief. The annual Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief (HADR) exercise was conducted in partnership with the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT), the United States Bureau for Humanitarian Assistance (BHA) and the Indonesian Search and Rescue National Agency (BASARNAS). Staged at Robertson Barracks in Darwin, Crocodile Response deployed HADR capability by air and sea to the Gove Peninsular township of Nhulunbuy more than 600km east of Darwin.
Commander Headquarters Northern Command Colonel Marcus Constable, who oversaw the exercise said,” was a tangible demonstration of how Australia, the US and Indonesia would stand together in times of crises. Working with DFAT, BHA & BASARNAS – the lead agencies in the event of a crisis – allows us to conduct planning and coordination for a partnered mission, building and fostering mutual cooperation between our forces and governments for future interoperability. Capability also deployed to Nhulunbuy to conduct HADR-related tasks such as landing zone assessments, water purification, establishing C2 nodes and supporting civilian or non-government agency distribution.”
Lead US planner for the exercise Major Bret Waters said,”The exercise supported the strategic objectives of US forces in the region. The MRF-D deployed significant and self-sufficient capability to a remote and austere part of Arnhem land. We were also able to work with the United States Navy landing ship dock USS Ashland to conduct interoperability rehearsals at sea with ADF and USMC assets, a significant capability which we would look at using in the event of a real-world crisis. At the same time as Crocodile Response, we fielded a warfighting force in Queensland for Exercise Southern Jackaroo alongside our ADF and Japanese Ground Self Defense Force counterparts.”
The Australian Army, US Marines and Indonesian troops act in accordance with COVIDSAFE protocols in the Northern Territory, and all have been subject to strict screening and testing requirements prior to this exercise. The exercise is designed to have only a minor impact on the Nhulunbuy community, with most of the activities taking place inside the compound. Exercise Crocodile Response featured the use of MV-22B Osprey aircraft coming and going from the Nhulunbuy South Oval throughout the training. The Australian Army has been part of the Arnhem Land community for almost 100 years. Exercise Crocodile Response 2022 is important because it will train our forces to deploy together and support people overseas after a crisis like a cyclone.