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Marines, sailors land in Australia

US Marine Corps News

By Lance Cpl. Ian M. McMahon, Marine Corps Bases Japan

ROBERTSON BARRACKS, NORTHERN TERRITORY, Australia -- Approximately 200 U.S. Marines and sailors from Hawaii arrived at Royal Australian Air Force Base Darwin April 3.

The Marines and sailors are part of a new rotational force that will be based at Robertson Barracks here in accordance with an announcement made by Australia Prime Minister Julia Gillard and President Barack Obama last November.

The rotational force, currently Company F, 2nd Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment, 3rd Marine Division, III Marine Expeditionary Force, will conduct bilateral training with Australian allies to maximize interoperability between the forces.

“This is very much an historic day, it is an historic day which is wedded deeply in the United States-Australian Alliance, forged over 60 years ago,” said Stephen Smith, Australia Minister for Defence, during a press conference April 4. “That alliance was forged in the Pacific in the course of World War II, where United States defense force personnel, including Marines and Australian Defence Force personnel stood shoulder to shoulder, not just in the defense of Australia but in the defense of the Pacific.”

“The United States Marines are here to facilitate the reinvigoration of our partnership with our Australian brothers and sisters in-arms,” said Lt. Col. AnDroy Senegar, the officer-in-charge of the III MEF command and control element assisting Company F during the first days of its deployment.

Exiting the plane, Marines were greeted by Australian and U.S. officials, including Smith; Australia Army Maj. Gen. Michael Krause, head of the U.S. Force Posture Review Implementation team; Jeffrey L. Bleich, U.S. ambassador to Australia; and Lt. Gen. Duane D. Thiessen, commanding general of U.S. Marine Corps Forces, Pacific.

The III MEF command and control element was already in Australia for approximately two weeks before the arrival of the company, which allowed for the coordination of numerous logistical details and helped ensure a smooth arrival, said Senegar.

Though tired from the long flight, the Marines’ and sailors’ spirits were high.

“I am absolutely excited to be here,” said Sgt. Andrew R. McConnell, a squad leader with Company F. “I want to see what we can learn about how the ADF operates, especially in close-quarters battles and their interaction with locals during operations.”

The Marines are scheduled to train in Australia and other Southeast Asian nations for approximately six months before returning to their home base in Hawaii.

“This is a great opportunity for both the U.S. and Australia,” said Senegar. “Now that the arrival is done, I look forward to getting started on what Marines do best – training and getting involved in the local community.”

The Australia defence minister expressed similar sentiments – looking forward to what the enhanced Australia-U.S. partnership will bring to both militaries and the citizens of Australia.

“I am absolutely confident that the Marines will enjoy very good training experience(s),” Smith said. “They’ll work well with our defence force personnel, and they will be particularly welcomed by the people of Australia; but in particular by the people of Darwin and the Northern Territory.”

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