About 200 United States Marines have arrived in Australia for a six-month deployment in the Northern Territory, as part of plans to expand the US military presence in the Asia-Pacific.
According to a US Marine Corps spokesman, the first of 2,500 Marines, who entered the northern Australian city of Darwin late Tuesday, are expected to engage in exercises with the Australian Defense Forces and are scheduled to travel to other countries in the region for training and exercises, Reuters reported on Wednesday.
The spokesman added that the troops will eventually form a rotational Marine Air Ground Task Force.
The unit was reportedly involved in recent active service in Afghanistan.
“The world needs to essentially come to grips with the rise of China, the rise of India, the move of strategic and political and economic influence to our part of the world,” Australian Defense Minister Stephen Smith said in Darwin.
“And we need to ensure that we do that in a way in which the international community responds to that change, manages that change,” he noted, adding that he believed the presence of Marines in Australia would support those efforts.
The troops are deployed under a last November security deal between US President Barack Obama and Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard to increase bilateral military cooperation and training.
Meanwhile, a senior Pentagon official disclosed last week that Washington was engaging in two sets of trilateral dialogues — one with Japan and Australia and the other with Japan and South Korea — to expand US missile systems to Asia and the Middle East.
The Australian government also announced last week that it would allow the Pentagon to use one of its remote islands in the Indian Ocean as a base to fly spy missions over South and Southeast Asia.
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