Bonhomme Richard ARG, 31st MEU Kick Off Exercise Koolendong
By Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Apprentice Edward Guttierrez III
DARWIN, Australia - Sailors and Marines of the Bonhomme Richard Amphibious Ready Group (ARG) and embarked 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) arrived here Aug. 28 to participate in Exercise Koolendong 2013 (KD 13), a bilateral exercise taking place at the Bradshaw Field Training Area (BFTA) in Australia's Northern Territory.

KD13 will be conducted with the 5th Royal Australian Regiment and the Marine Rotational Force - Darwin to assess the future suitability of BFTA as a viable site for holding live-fire exercises for battalion-sized units of 1,000 personnel.

"Marine Corps forces currently stationed in Japan do not have access to a range complex that allows for the fire and maneuver of battalion sized elements," said Marine Capt. Michael Allen, Combat Cargo officer for Amphibious Squadron (PHIBRON) 11. "This exercise is important because it validates BFTA as a live fire and maneuver range for those Marines as well as the Australian Defense Force."

The exercise plans to incorporate day and night live-fire operations including light and heavy machine guns, mortars, and artillery, as well as aviation ordnance to be delivered by AV-8B Harriers. MV-22 Ospreys, UH-1Y Hueys, and CH-53E Super Stallions embarked on forward-deployed amphibious assault ship USS Bonhomme Richard (LHD 6) and amphibious transport dock ship USS Denver (LPD 9) will provide assault troop transport and support from the sea.

"KD13 also allows the ARG/MEU to exercise their ability to execute a ship to shore to objective maneuver," said Allen, "showcasing the capability that amphibious forces have with regards to providing a rapid response to a contingency, a rapid buildup of combat power, and the ability to project that combat power over the horizon to achieve strategic and operational goals"
The Bonhomme Richard ARG, commanded by PHIBRON 11, is currently participating in Exercise Koolendong with the 31st MEU.

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