Photo: dvidshub via flickr
The first contingent of U.S. Marines deployed to Australia arrive today and by all accounts this is one tour they will fight to extend.Sarah Martin at The Australian reports a rotation of 250 Marines from Hawaii is flying into Darwin where they’ll be welcomed with a formal military ceremony at Robertson Barracks tomorrow.
We’ve known this was coming for months, but what we didn’t know was how the locals were responding to this fresh batch of foreign troops stationed in their fair city.
Already accustomed to Robertson’s presence, the locals are generally nonplussed by the military and its personnel, but the incoming American contingent is apparently causing a bit of a fuss.
Darwin Mayor Katrina Fong Lim says there’s some concern, and more than a bit of curiosity, about today’s incoming batch of Marines, but that most people are very much looking forward to it.
Marines mean money to this lonely Australian territory, and the Aussie ethos should be a welcome one to troops accustomed to deployments with more hardships than pleasures.
The head of the local chamber of commerce told Martin he’s looking forward to seeing the troops integrate into the local community, and he hopes they’ll be given time to “party hard” with local residents.
That comment led us to understand this was no normal duty station and we looked for a local to explain what the Marines are likely to expect.
“Single ladies here do go wild when a U.S. Navy ship docks…” she told us.
“I used to be one of them…in my early days, she explained. “But it is nice to see a load of buff American men around a small city.”
The Marine Corps presence in northern Australia could eventually swell to 2500-strong as part of the joint U.S-Australia defence agreement made last November.
The move is part of the Administration’s pivot away from its wars in the Middle East and a renewed focus on China and the South China Sea where it is placing more U.S. troops than at any time since World War II.
For its part, China is certainly not on board with the Pentagon’s decision to deploy troops so close to its shores and nearby resources.
But it doesn’t help their case that while they build up their military at a near exponential rate, the PRC continues to clamor that it owns land according to ancient maps, which now falls within foreign borders.
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