The ADF makes a significant contribution to the Territory’s resident population, with the Defence presence more than doubling since the early 1990s. The number of Defence personnel and their families is estimated at 15,000 which represents more than six per cent of the Territory’s population.
Headquarters Northern Command (HQNORCOM) at Larrakeyah Barracks in Darwin City is a Joint Operational Level Headquarters focused on the defence of Northern Australia.NORCOM has evolved and today its primary concern is border security operations. However, the facilitation of Defence activities, including Defence Assistance to the Civil Community (DACC) in the north remains an important responsibility. Also based at Larrakeyah Barracks is NORFORCE. NORFORCE is permanently assigned to a Joint Commander for ongoing surveillance operations in northern Australia. The unit relies heavily on the commitment and local knowledge of the population of northern Australia, including a high proportion of Aboriginal soldiers to fulfill its role. Defence Establishment Berrimah, formerly HMAS Coonawarra, is a multi-tenanted base that accommodates staff from Defence Support Central and West and the Chief Information Officer Group along with Defence contractors. The Australian Navy Cadet unit, Training Ship Darwin also calls Berrimah home.
Larrakeyah Barracks is walking distance from Darwin CBD. Darwin is a vitally important Navy port – a gateway to Australia’s northern neighbours and the centre from which to conduct border, fishery and economic protection operations. Darwin currently supports 10 Armidale Class Patrol boats and two Landing Craft Heavy ships, and plays host to major RAN and multi-national exercises and operations involving Australian and foreign major warships on a regular basis. Almost 650 Navy men and women are based in the Darwin area.
Robertson Barracks accommodates Army’s only mechanised brigade (1st Brigade) as well as the 1st Aviation Regiment, which is the sole operator of the Tiger Armed Reconnaissance Helicopters, and a company from the 1st Military Policy Battalion. The brigade’s vehicles include the M1A1 Abrams tank, the Australian Light Armoured Vehicle (ASLAV) and the M113AS4 Armoured Personnel Carriers. These capabilities allow the Brigade to conduct manoeuvres and protected close combat, meaning that the 1st Brigade is the most complete combined-arms organisation in the Australian Army. The 1st Brigade units include two mechanised infantry battalions (5th and 7th Battalions of the Royal Australian Regiment), a tank regiment (1st Armoured Regiment), an armoured reconnaissance regiment (2nd Cavalry Regiment), 8/12 Regiment, Royal Australian Artillery, 1st Combat Engineer Regiment, 1st Combat Signals Regiment, and 1st Combat Services Support Battalion.
RAAF Base Darwin is located 7km from the Darwin CBD. It is home to 396 Expeditionary Combat Support Wing which commands the combat support units at most Australian bases, including the three bare bases in Far North QLD and WA. RAAF Base Tindal near Katherine and 320kms by road southeast of Darwin. The airfield is the home to a squadron of F/A-18 Hornet aircraft with No 75 Squadron. The squadron is supported by 322 Expeditionary Combat Support Squadron; its mission is to provide fixed airbase support at Tindal and also support functions away from Tindal in any threat environment. RAAF Tindal’s contribution to the local community includes flood relief and Defence Aid to the Civil Community.