The first rotation of around 200 United States Marine Corps personnel arrived in Darwin on Tuesday night.
This initial rotation is an integral part of the enhanced practical cooperation measures pursuant to the Australia-United States Alliance relationship announced by Prime Minister Julia Gillard and United States President Barack Obama on 16 November 2011.
It represents an evolution of existing exercises and activities that the United States (US) already conducts with the Australian Defence Force (ADF) in Australia.
Existing exercises include the biennial Exercise Talisman Sabre in the Northern Territory and Queensland, the most recent of which in 2011 involved close to 22,500 Australian and US troops working together.
As part of the ongoing US consideration of its global force posture, this initiative will see US Marine Corps personnel deploying to Northern Australia on a rotational basis for around six months per year.
Over the six month period, this initial US Marine Corps rotation will undertake bilateral training in Australia with the ADF and conduct unilateral training in Australia.
The US Marines will spend the majority of that time in ADF Northern Territory training areas and ranges including the Mount Bundey and Kangaroo Flats Training Areas.
Chief Minister Paul Henderson said Territorians are keen to welcome the US Marines following a visit from President Barack Obama last year and the Marines would be a welcome addition to Darwin’s culturally vibrant community.
The initial rotation will be a US Marine Corps infantry company, which will not include heavy equipment, vehicles or aircraft. Air and sea movements in support of this rotation are minimal.
The intent in the coming years is to establish a rotational presence of up to a 2,500 personnel Marine Air Ground Task Force (MAGTF), rotating into Northern Australia in the northern dry season. A full MAGTF includes a Command Element, Ground Element, Aviation Element and Logistics Element. Major equipment to support the elements of the MAGTF includes wheeled vehicles, artillery pieces, light armoured vehicles and aircraft, in addition to personnel.
There are no US military bases in Australia, and this will not change.
The US Marine Corps rotations of personnel will use existing Defence facilities in Northern Australia for accommodation and training. Defence will provide a range of support to this initial rotation and costs for this rotation will be shared under existing legal, financial and logistical arrangements.
Australia and the US continue to work together to establish specific activities that will occur during this initial rotation, and will continue to work closely with the Northern Territory Government.
This initiative will provide tangible benefits for Australia by increasing the number, variety and complexity of training opportunities for the ADF, and further developing our interoperability with US forces.
It also supports Australia’s long-held strategic interests in supporting US engagement in our region in a manner that promotes peace and stability. The initiative could also provide new opportunities for Australiana and US engagement with our partners in the region.
The Government welcomes this latest chapter in the more than sixty year Alliance relationship with the United States.
Australia's own Force Posture Review is currently being considered by Government.
3 APRIL 2012
PRESS OFFICE (02) 6277 7744
MINISTER SMITH’S MEDIA CONTACT: Andrew Porter 0419 474 392
CHIEF MINISTER HENDERSON’S MEDIA CONTACT: Claire March 0403 937 849