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Army April 12, 2012
First marines land
A contingent of 200 US Marines arrives in Darwin in a landmark moment for the Australia-US alliance
THE military partnership between
Australia and the US has entered
a new era with the first rotation of
US Marines arriving in Darwin on
The 200 marines of Fox Coy,
2nd Bn, 3rd Marine Regt, parad-
ed with members of 5RAR for the
first time in an official ceremony at
Robertson Barracks on April 4.
The rotation is part of enhanced
cooperation measures between
Australian and US forces,
announced by Prime Minister Julia
Gillard and US President Barack
Obama during the President's visit
to Darwin on November 16 last
Defence Minister Stephen
Smith welcomed the contin-
gent and said the marines would
spend six months in Australia
conducting training activities
both independently and alongside
Australian soldiers, mostly in the
"We're staging [the rotations]
over essentially a five or six-year
period and we'll progressively
increase the number of marines on
the rotation," he said. "We're start-
ing with between 200 and 250, and
each year we'll increase that.
"As each six monthly rotation
concludes, we'll do a lessons learnt
and make sure that there's nothing
we need to improve or enhance and
adopt those lessons for the future."
The initial rotation of a US
Marine Corps infantry company
does not include heavy equip-
ment, vehicles or aircraft. In com-
ing years, a Marine Air Ground
Task Force of up to 2500 person-
nel will rotate through the Northern
Territory for six months during the
The US personnel will use exist-
ing Defence facilities for accom-
modation and training, but no
US bases will be established on
Mr Smith said the marines'
arrival was an historic moment in
the Australia-US relationship.
"While on the one hand it's an
extension of the alliance relation-
ship that we've seen for over 60
years, it will see the greatest practi-
cal cooperation on the ground since
the end of World War II and that's
in my view an unambiguously good
thing," he said.
"It makes sense from a nation-
al-interest perspective [and] it also
makes sense for our region's stabil-
ity and security."
Defence Science and Personnel
Minister Warren Snowdon, US
Ambassador to Australia Jeffrey
Bleich, Commanding General
of Marine Forces Pacific Lt-Gen
Duane Thiessen and Commander
1 Bde Brig Gus McLachlan were
among special guests alongside Mr
Smith at the official ceremony in
Darwin to welcome the marines.
AS THE first contingent of marines arrived
in Darwin, Defence Minister Stephen Smith
received the final report of the Australian
Force Posture Review.
Commissioned last June to address a
range of present and emerging strategic
and security factors, the review outlines a
range of options for consideration as part
of the 2014 Defence White Paper develop-
Mr Smith said the findings of the final
report would be published in due course.
The decision to host a contingent of
US marines in Darwin on an ongoing basis
was announced during the review and con-
tributed to the final report.
FORCE POSTURE IN SPOTLIGHT
Joint operation: Members of 5RAR
parade with the marines of Fox Coy,
2nd Bn, 3rd Marine Regt, at Robinson
Barracks. Inset, Defence Minister
Stephen Smith welcomes contingent
commander US Marine Capt Christopher
Richardella at RAAF Base Darwin.
Photos by Cpl Christopher Dickson
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