U.S. Marines arrive in Australia as part of rotation training program

Source: Xinhua| 2017-04-18 13:54:10|Editor: MJ
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CANBERRA, April 18 (Xinhua) -- More than 1,000 U. S. Marines on Tuesday arrived in Darwin as part of a rotation of forces to be stationed in northern Australia.

The 1,250 troops who arrived in the Northern Territory (NT) will soon be joined by 13 aircraft -- four tilt-rotor Osprey helicopters, five Super Cobra helicopters and four Huey helicopters -- in one of the largest deployments of U.S. forces to Australia since World War II.

Commanding Officer of Marine Rotational Force Darwin, Lieutenant Colonel Brian S. Middleton told journalists on Tuesday "The aviation combat element is our most robust deployment to Darwin."

"I think that the commitment that we've taken to put a task force here with a conversation to get larger over the years says that we do think this is an important region."

"Being close to Southeast Asia and the Indian Ocean, the Indo Pacific position has always been important."

Middleton said the Marines would conduct "important exercises alongside with Chinese partners" and Australia. Troops from the three countries are conducting annual joint exercises codenamed Kowari since 2014.

Brigadier Ben James, commander of Australia's 3,000-strong 1st brigade based in Darwin, said he looked forward to working alongside with his U.S. counterparts.

"We're very much looking forward to a great six-month rotation where we can train, operate and exercise alongside with our most important ally," James said.

The rotation is part of a deal struck between former U.S. President Barack Obama and former Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard in 2011.

It is the first large-scale arrival of U.S. troops since the arrangement was signed, with a small number of Marines having been sent to Darwin for training since 2012.

Michael Gunner, NT's chief minister, said Darwin was proud to be a defence town.

"We welcome the arrival of American troops as part of our long-term partnership and friendship," Gunner told reporters on Tuesday.

"They provide an important economic boost which comes at a time when many Territory businesses are doing it tough.

"We first welcomed U.S. defence personnel and ships in the days following the bombing of Pearl Harbor in December 1941."

A report by Deloitte Access Economics found that the Marines would inject 3.7 million U.S. dollars into the NT economy annually.