Photo Information

U.S. Sailors with Marine Rotational Force – Darwin 24.3 pose for a photo with Papua New Guinea Defence Force members after an en route care orientation at the Air Transport Wing, Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea, May 8, 2024. The HADR exercise is conducted in coordination with the Papua New Guinea Defence force and U.S. Embassy in Port Moresby, with a focus on projecting select role II medical, logistics, and Marine Air-Ground Task Force command and control capabilities off-continent, to validate HADR training and readiness. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Juan Torres)

Photo by Cpl. Juan Torres

Preparedness and Collaboration: MRF-D 24.3 U.S. Marines, Sailors, PNGDF forge bonds and expertise in Papua New Guinea

23 May 2024 | Gunnery Sgt. Kassie McDole Marine Rotational Force - Darwin

In a display of international cooperation and readiness, U.S. Marines and Sailors with Marine Rotational Force – Darwin (MRF-D) 24.3 recently concluded a comprehensive humanitarian assistance and disaster relief (HADR) exercise in Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea, April 29 to May 9.

"We, [MRF-D 24.3], are a rotational force deployed for 6 months out of Darwin, Australia,” said U.S. Marine Corps Maj. Joe Phippen, the future operations officer of MRF-D 24.3. “We rehearsed our humanitarian assistance and disaster relief capabilities, here in Papua New Guinea, working with the U.S. Embassy at Port Moresby and our hosts the Papua New Guinea Defence Force, emphasizing the importance of projecting off-continent capabilities to respond swiftly to crises in the South Pacific.”

The exercise encompassed a wide range of activities, including medical exchanges, religious key leader engagements, community relations events, and joint planning exercises.

"We are able to render aid in times of crisis, in times of humanitarian assistance," highlighted U.S. Navy Lt. Brett Nary, the medical planner for MRF-D 24.3. "We have an en route care team, comprised of a nurse who's qualified on board aircraft as well as a corpsman. Their focus is from the point of injury to the extraction of that patient to a higher echelon of care."

The exercise also provided valuable training opportunities for both U.S. and PNGDF personnel, with both countries sharing expertise in areas such as medical evacuation and en route care.

"In Papua New Guinea, we have a lot of disaster relief needs, incidences where disasters tend to happen," stated PNGDF 1st Lt. Heydan Chan, the U.S. liaison officer for the HADR exercise. "The knowledge that we leave behind for each other to conduct does benefit the PNGDF and the United States."

From tactical training, medical skillsets, to cultural exchanges, the exercise served as a platform for building trust and mutual understanding between the partner forces.

"We just interacted nicely. This is something new for all of us," remarked PNGDF Capt. Ainesa Kuliniasi, a midwife pediatric nurse with the PNGDF, underscoring the positive impact of the collaboration. "With the interactions we had, we were able to ask for anything from each other, assistance, whatever, and we were there to help."

As the exercise concluded, U.S. Navy Petty Officer 3rd Class Brannan McClure, an en route care corpsman with Combat Logistics Battalion 5 (Reinforced), reflected on the significance of the training and the enduring partnership between the two nations.

"It's humbling to come into Papua New Guinea and offer a new point of view that may not have been available to their medics before," said McClure. "Our collaboration with the PNGDF demonstrates the effectiveness of our casualty evacuation capability and our shared commitment to saving lives."

In a heartwarming gesture, U.S. Marines and Sailors with MRF-D 24.3 also visited Taurama Primary School at Taurama Barracks, Port Moresby, for a community relations event. Sharing smiles, taking pictures together, and playing friendly games of rugby and soccer with the students. MRF-D 24.3 Marines and Sailors embraced the local community, exemplifying their dedication to forging lasting connections beyond the exercise.

“For these days together, we all took part, and I was very impressed that we were so comfortable around each other, we could say anything, said Kuliniasi. “We could ask questions, anything. They, [U.S.], were there to assist us, and we were there to help answer all their questions. There was no barriers, nothing. We just interacted so nicely."

The joint exercise also included religious key leader engagements, fostering understanding and dialogue with local religious leaders. These engagements promoted cultural exchange and mutual respect, laying the foundation for enduring partnerships between the U.S. Marine Corps, Navy, and the diverse communities of Papua New Guinea.

With a shared commitment to regional security and stability, the joint exercise underscored the importance of cooperation and preparedness in addressing humanitarian crises in the Indo-Pacific region.

"We will be stronger together and we are able to respond to any crisis should they need it, whether from Darwin, Papua New Guinea, or any South Pacific Island nations that might need our help," concluded Phippen, highlighting the enduring bonds forged during the exercise.

As the U.S. Marines and Sailors departed Papua New Guinea, the spirit of cooperation and partnership remained, laying the foundation for future joint endeavors in the region.

I Marine Expeditionary Force