With all the problems facing the US Marines as they try to reposition forces on Okinawa and Guam, they have at least found one more place to put a few Marines at that will lighten the load on the two islands:
THE expanded American military presence in Australia – to be formally announced next week by the US President, Barack Obama – will result in vastly more US ships, planes and soldiers visiting and being stationed in the nation’s north, the government says.
As the government all but confirmed yesterday’s Herald report that US Marines and materiel would be shifted to Darwin, the Greens said the move would annoy Australia’s neighbours, including China, and make the nation a bigger military target.
The Greens leader, Bob Brown, said he would make his concerns known to Mr Obama next week in the unlikely event he was granted a meeting with him. Otherwise Senator Brown planned to ring the US embassy to complain.
The Foreign Minister, Kevin Rudd, attacked the Greens, whose platform opposes foreign military bases.
”The Green party does not direct Australia’s national security policy, the Green party does not direct Australia’s foreign policy,” Mr Rudd said from Hawaii, where he is attending the Asia-Pacific Economic Co-operation summit.
Mr Rudd played down concerns expressed by some defence analysts, such as Professor Hugh White, that the increased US presence might antagonise China. Mr Rudd said Australia had always been transparent about the importance of its alliance with the US.
With Australia’s vast coastline and small population, ”it has always made national security sense for Australia to have a strong strategic alliance with the United States”. This had long had the overwhelming support of the Australian people, he said. [Sydney Morning Herald]
Considering the size of the existing military installation Robertson Barracks that they are putting Marines at in Darwin it could probably hold just a few hundred Marines, so it won’t be a very large troop presence. However, this opens the door to future expansion of the base once the politics in Australia line up to support such a move. This is a very good idea to reduce some of the pressure over the US Marine presence on Okinawa while at the same time strategically dispersing US forces across the Pacific. On a side note, China would look ridiculous complaining about US Marines stationed thousands of miles away in an entirely different hemisphere, especially if it reduces the number of US forces in Okinawa that is sitting literally right off their shores unlike Australia.