180 US Marines landed in Australia on Wednesday morning, the Marines were requested by the Australian and US governments along with other members of the US military in order to boost the countries military presence at a time when China is expanding its own military presence in the countries backyard.
The new group of US Marines will engage in training exercises with the Australian Defense Force and soldiers will be stationed in a six-month rotation. By 2017 the United States will have 2,500 American troops stations in Australian after President Obama signed an agreement with Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard back in November.
The move, while popular among the Australian and US governments has led China to accuse the United States of escalating military tensions in the region.
Marines arriving in the country were greeted by Australian Defense Minister Stephen Smith. In an interview with ABC News Smith revealed:
“We see this very much as responding and reflecting the fact that the world is moving into our part of the world, the world is moving to the Asia-Pacific and the Indian Ocean. We need to respond to that.”
Smith then added:
“The world needs to essentially come to grips with the rise of China, the rise of India, the move of strategic and political and economic influence to our part of the world.”
While the US has had military bases located throughout the North Pacific since the end of World War II, its presence in Southeast Asia has long been deluded. With Australia now one of the United States’ most important and trusted allies the United States is now able to once again establish a footprint near the South China Sea.
In defending the decision to send US Troops to Australia Jeffrey Bleich, the American ambassador to Australia told Sky TV:
“There’s this kind of sexy, fun narrative that you hear from pundits and others trying to suggest this is about China, but it’s not
“If you just look at the Darwin decision, for example, we’ve had our Marines stationed in Central Asia, in Iraq and Afghanistan and they are mostly an amphibious force so they need to start training and doing amphibious maneuvers again and we’re looking for the best place to do it and the best partners to do it with and Darwin is an ideal spot for it.”
Let us make no mistake about it, the move to send US troops to Australia is most certainly about keeping China at bay.