110805-M-2155E-003WASHINGTON: The US presence in the remote northern Australian port of Darwin will soar from its current 250 troops to 1,000 next year and ultimately to 2,200, granting a full Marine Expeditionary Unit an effective base of operations. Although the general agreement had been made in 2011, the renewed commitment is likely to elicit a negative reaction from China, already irked by the Australian’s agreement to effectively base Marines in their country at the most useful port closest to the People’s Republic.

The news dribbled out in bits during a talk at the Center for Strategic and International Studies by the Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Jonathan Greenert and Marine Commandant Gen. James Amos on the future of the maritime force . The Marines “will build up to a MEU-size force operating out of Darwin,” Greenert said, restating the basic agreement reached in 2011. Later, Amos said that the number of Marines operating from Darwin would grow to 1,000 in 2014.

Amos was careful about Australian political sensibilities, saying, “we will proceed at whatever pace our partners believe is the right pace.” While Australia’s very close military, intelligence and political relationships with America are generally supported by the populace, the Labour Party (currently in power) includes a significant element that is, at least, skeptical of American benevolence. When President Obama visited Australia in November last year and the Darwin move was announced, both China and some elements of the Australian political spectrum criticized it.

I understand senior Australian Defense Ministry officials were in Washington the last week of June negotiating the latest agreement. No word of compensation or forces agreements has leaked out.

“People want to engage with us,” Mabus said, “but they are very cognizant that they don’t want a large footprint on the ground.” He wasn’t speaking specifically about Australia, but his intent was clear.

On the wider subject of the Pacific, Greenert noted that the Chinese were enthusiastic and committed participants in the next annual “Rim of the Pacific” mega-exercise, RIMPAC 14. He said the Chinese came to the initial planning conference and engaged “in a very serious discussion about command and control structure,” among other topics.

In other news, Navy Secretary Ray Mabus — who has been refreshingly public and specific about his concerns about the stupidity of sequestration and the longer-term issues of the general budget drawdown — sent a clear signal to the Congress that “there is zero peace dividend coming out of Afghanistan.”


  • ELP

    Various sources indicate the Australian expense to help the USMC bed-down could be around A$1.5B. Would rather see the money go into B-2 hangers and F-22 support for those kinds of deployments down here.

    • newyorklady

      It will be less expensive than that.
      We need our military presense everywhere.
      We have to project our thought into the future.
      Our future enemy will be China. The Chineese have been sitting there for 5 thousand years. They are building their economic power. They are building their military power – against whom? Against us.
      We are the world greatest superpower for as long as we are the military superpower.

      • adaptus primus

        Nope. We are the greatest superpower for as long as we are the economic superpower. Military power without economic foundation is pure fantasy.

        • SS BdM Fuhress ‘Savannah

          So when China becomes the money power ( 2/3rds of the worlds middle class in a few decades) do you think our Elite here that have held that so long will just shake China’s hand? They will do everything in their power to stop that and then when they see they will lose after exhausting millions of us in a conflict they will shake hands with China. I think only the Creator can come between that happening. And the Creator does not think like us. Why not throw China on the top of the mountain and maybe we can be the slave labor for a while.

    • Rob Tuazon

      other option is just let the Chinese rape Australias environment

  • Jack

    Keep threatening the world Mr peace prize Obama. I hope your the first one to get what your asking for. America has become nothing but another fascist Nazi pig.

    • Mike

      President Obama has been an absolute disaster for America, and for all but AlQaeda worldwide.. He hasn’t caused permanent damage – yet – but he’s capable of it.

      • vstillwell


        • george

          Yes, seriously. The calculation prevails that wars and terrorism are affordable as long as oil is stable. Without due oversight excesses will occur. I do not believe we/Americans are Nazis but key decision makers, not necessarily Presidents, only look to the bottom line. Frankly a lot of what we have done would probably be roundly condemned by those Nazi thugs. We need oversight. I hope we can take the moral high ground in my lifetime. I am hopeful.

          • vstillwell

            You can spare me the war sermon. I was commenting on that guy’s obsession with Obama.

          • george

            OK. Obama seems to me to be doing the best he can considering he has little real power in Washington. Lobbyists and money rules. Maybe it should be that way, it is a natural order.

      • PolicyWonk

        Apparently, you remain blissfully unaware of the consequences of the gross incompetence of Mr. Obama’s predecessor.

        According to multiple years of National Intelligence Estimates (the combined opinions of all 16 of our national intelligence agencies), the administration of George W Bush caused the worst string of foreign policy and national security disasters in US history (let alone the worst economic calamity since the Great Depression).

        Unfortunately, that same conclusion was reached by the Bush Administrations own researchers, who delivered the reports to the office of the POTUS and VPOTUS. Additional nations in agreement with the above conclusions included the British, Germany, Israel, Saudi Arabia, Canada, and NATO in general, amongst others (actually, all of them worldwide, regardless of friend or foe).

        And for that matter, that same conclusions were reached by the republican party – who didn’t once mention the name of GWB during the entire 2012 election season).

  • SS BdM Fuhress ‘Savannah

    So China is going to attack Pearl and then go after Australia? After this deployment we can deploy troops in Beijing and Moskaw. One day a step too far.

    • Rob Tuazon

      you got more to go

  • idahoguy101

    2,200 US Marines isn’t going to intimidate the PRC

    • Spiv

      Then the PRC shouldn’t mind the deployment and have nothing to say.

    • Rob Tuazon

      its not the objective. more like Slap the thieves if need be

  • newyorklady

    It’s antipatriotic to criticise the goverment and Mr. President.

    • george

      Er, yes, I agree, when the President is wrong it is our patriotic duty to criticize. Everything and everybody needs feedback proportional to the problem.

  • Don Bacon

    US Marine Force in Darwin, Australia Boosts To 1,000 Next Year

    –Darwin is located in the “top end” of the Northern Territory of Australia, a remote location over 3,000 miles from Shanghai.

    –Weather in the Top End is ordinarily referred to as ‘the wet’ (November to April) and ‘the dry’ (May to October). The Marines rotate into an Australian military base (4,000 troops) for “the dry” — don’t want them to get wet. They supposedly stay for six months. Actually, not. During the six-month deployment of 200 Marines last year, they only spent three months in Australia. The second company-size unit arrived this year on June 1.

    –The target has been to have a Marine Air-Ground Task Force (MAGTF) based in Australia by 2017, which equates to 2,500 marines. A MAGTF includes command, ground combat, logistics combat and aviation combat elements. An aviation element typically contains around 25 aircraft/helicopters. Due to an Australian cooling to the idea, and possibly pressure from China, that has been reduced to 1,000.

    –Why is Australia cool to this weak US effort? In May Australia Australia released its 2013 Defence White Paper on May 3 outlining various defense challenges and goals the nation faces. One area of surprise is the paper’s claim that “Australia welcomes China’s rise.” This should serve as a reality check for those in Washington who believe that Australia will serve as a key contributor to the Pentagon’s future AirSea Battle plans against China.

    • Don Bacon

      I’ve traveled across Australia, including Darwin, which really was not
      the high point of the trip. It’s a remote, dull place with high-priced
      beer. That’s why Marines don’t stay long. Overall Oz is a great place
      though, with wonderful people, Aussies with a sense of humor, like with

      Americans: Drink weak, pissy-tasting beer.
      Canadians: Drink strong, pissy-tasting beer.
      Brits: Drink warm, beery-tasting piss.
      Aussies: Drink anything with alcohol in it.

      They’re kidding, of course.

    • Spiv

      Gov’ts change their minds and policies like hem lines. Look at the Philippines, after giving the US Navy the boot out of Subic Bay (and forcing the closure of all those sleazy bars outside of the base’s gate) they are in the process of inviting the Navy back, because of China’s rise.

      China’s rise is going to re-align governments all through Asia and participate a re-militarization of Japan.

  • kangaroo

    Darwins a shithole, I pity any marine that has to go there!

  • Rob Tuazon

    how about “Trust” a Chinaman

    • SS BdM Fuhress ‘Savannah

      Our Biz world don’t have to trust them they just got to make money off of them.

  • syress

    Welcome Marines to Australia. Good to have you guys at our back :)