A contingent of up to 2,200 U.S. Marines has begun arriving for a six-month rotation to Australia’s northern city of Darwin, the Marine Corps and Australian Defence Department announced. The contingent is part of an ongoing U.S. initiative in the Indo-Pacific region to prepare for a possible Chinese invasion of Taiwan in the coming years.
During their 11th deployment to Darwin since 2012, Marines will train with the Australian troops and other friendly forces to respond to a crisis in the region, the Marines said in their statement.
“It is an honor to build upon the continuing legacy of the outstanding U.S.-Australian alliance and AUKUS agreement,” said Col. Chris Steele, the rotational force’s commander, in reference to a defense pact reached last year between America, Australia and the United Kingdom.
Australian Defence Minister Peter Dutton warned in September conflict with China “shouldn’t be discounted” and on Wednesday told the U.S. Studies Centre that Beijing may look to annex Taiwan while the world is preoccupied with Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
Dutton targeted China directly, saying the Communist Party chiefs may seek to use the cover of the conflict in Ukraine as “a useful distraction and an opportunity to pursue their own acts of aggression and coercion.”
The training will include live-fire military exercises to improve cohesion between Australian and U.S. forces and those of other regional allies.
“We are excited to…integrate two highly capable and interoperable forces that advance our shared goals, demonstrate the strength and endurance of our alliance, and contribute to regional security,” Steele said.
The U.S. military often uses the term “interoperability” to describe the ability of one country’s armed forces to use another country’s training methods and military equipment.