US Marine Corps, June 01, 2015 - MOUNT BUNDEY TRAINING AREA, NORTHERN TERRITORY, Australia by Cpl Reba James – U.S. Marines with Heavy Helicopter Squadron 463, Marine Rotational Force – Darwin, conducted refueling and transport operations with two CH-53E Super Stallion helicopters May 22 at Mount Bundy Training Area, Northern Territory, Australia.
The CH-53E’s picked up and transported approximately 140 Marines from Robertson Barracks and transported them to MBTA to begin Exercise Predator Walk.
“Today was the beginning of Predator Walk and is the first joint coalition exercise between the Australian Defence Force and the MRF-D Marines,” said Capt. Kevin Roche, operations officer for HMH-463, MRF-D, and a native of St. Louis, Missouri. “We transported Marines from Company A in three waves down to the Mount Bundey training area and they will be out there executing missions with the ADF and other Marines.”
As the aviation combat element for the MRF-D Marine Air-Ground Task Force, HMH-463 provided the ground units with assault support by transporting personnel and equipment to designated landing zones.
“We are the sole air transport and our entire mission is to support (Marines) on the ground in order to support the MAGTF commander, Lt. Col. Eric Dougherty,” said Roche. “We mostly do heavy lifting of cargo, assault support, which is moving Marines around the battle space, and refueling.”
The exercise is a three-week bilateral training evolution with the Australian Army and enables Marines to become familiar with and improve their knowledge of the Australians’ technical, tactical and standard operating procedures to strengthen interoperability.
“Marines will learn the basics of how to set up a patrol base, operate out of it, do reconnaissance, contact patrols and ambushes,” said 1st Lt. Timothy Rose, executive officer for Company A, 1st Battalion, 4th Marine Regiment, MRF-D, and a native of Richmond, Virginia. “We will be working with the Australian Army for another exercise after the initial patrolling exercise, in which we are detaching a platoon (of Marines) with the ADF.”
Marines were able to grasp the capabilities of the CH-53E as a quick transport option, and some learned the basic fundamentals of controlling the helicopter during transportation or refueling at landing zones.
“From the big picture standpoint, the Marines got a good appreciation of the resources the ACE can provide,” said Rose.
As Predator Walk continues, Marines will be working together with the ADF and other MRF-D assets to exercise the interoperability and the combined capability of a MAGTF.
Defense ties between the United States and our allies and partner nations are critical to regional security and cooperation.
“We were able to get the Marines into the zones where they needed to be and we will be doing a lot of exercises with the [ground combat element] and the ADF,” said Roche. “Not only during Predator Walk, but (Exercises) Talisman Saber and Koolendong, and everyone at the ACE is excited to be working with the ADF.”