This year’s deployment of a Marine infantry company, the first in what will become a larger rotation of units to Australia, has garnered lots of attention Down Under and throughout South Asia as officials and analysts lauded or questioned the larger strategic reasons, namely China’s rising influence and expanding military, for the new quasi-permanent U.S. military presence.
Gen. Jim Amos, visiting the Australian Army’s Robertson Barracks that’s been the main garrison for the deployed Marines with Fox Company, 2nd Battalion, 3rd Marines, praised the benefits of these renewed U.S-Aussie ties and dismissed any notions the deployments were an attempt to wield more power in the region. “There is a lot of opportunity to work together: humanitarian assistance, disaster relief, training together and to actually have an influence on sea lines of communications, commerce, free trade and responsible behaviour in the Asia-Pacific area,” Amos said, according to Australia’s ABC News. “I don’t look at it as sabre rattling at all.” Amos said.
Amos called the deployment “very, very successful.” The 200 Marines with Fox Company, who landed in Australia in April, have stayed busy during the deployment, which temporarily had them off the continent for training and exercising with regional military forces. “While Marines are a fun and frisky group, they’re happy to be here,” Amos said, according to The Australian, the continent’s national daily. “I couldn’t have scripted (the deployment) any better.”
The Marines recently wrapped up an exercise with Australia defense forces, including close-air support training with an F/A-18 Hornet squadron, Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 232, at Delamere Training Area in the Northern Territory near Darwin.
Fox 2/3 is expected to return to Hawaii in late September. The next group of Marines, likely another infantry company from Hawaii, will deploy to Darwin in the spring as part of the new Unit Deployment Program rotations to Australia announced earlier this year. The Marine Corps plans to boost those numbers to 2,500 by 2016 or 2017.