The United States Marines have finally landed in Darwin, Australia where they will be doing quite a bit of training but at the same time reminding China who the worlds number 1 super power is. A group of about 200 Marines have arrived in Australia’s Northern Territory and later this year about 2,300 more Marines will be joining them for year long deployment on the one island the Marines are likely not going to want to leave. The deployment is to further cooperation between the two allies, provide training for the land, sea and air troops who have solely been training for desert war conditions and to create a quick reaction force of battle ready troops for the region.
While no official memo will state that this is to rub China the wrong way that is certainly what it is going to do. Recent disputes between China and its neighbors over claims of the South China Sea have prompted calls for help by those who are being bullied by China. The United States also feels that its national security interests also allow it to intervene in maritime disputes in the South China Sea because of the amount of trade that flows through it. China claims more water than it is entitled to by international law but since her neighbors like Vietnam don’t have the vast resources of a super power they have asked for the United States to intervene. The contingent of Marines now stationed in Australia certainly won’t be conducting missions as of yet but when the full force arrives you can certainly expect operations to increase which are sure to unhinge China.
The increase in heavily armed troops on Australian soil isn’t the only thing that the Australians are opening up to the United States. Along with those troops the United States will now be able to more freely access ports and use airports/bases for more joint exercises and equipment loading/unloading. According to the Council on Foreign Relations the increase in attention to the Asia/Pacific region is to specifically counter China’s growing influence and military power. China is currently developing a stealth fighter jet which would dominate the Asian skies as well as testing an updated Soviet aircraft carrier. With the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan winding down the United States is looking ahead to the possible wars of the future and the biggest threat aside from terrorism is China.
With military bases and tens of thousands of troops in Japan and South Korea, the United States has maintained a significant military presence in Asia for decades. Australia lies about 5,500 miles south of China, and its northern shores would give the U.S. easier access to the South China Sea, a vital commercial route.
The plan outlined by Obama will allow the United States to keep a sustained force on Australian bases and position equipment and supplies there, giving the U.S. ability to train with allies in the region and respond more quickly to humanitarian or other crises. U.S. officials said the pact was not an attempt to create a permanent American military presence in Australia.
Many experts see the deployment of Marines to be strategic because it offers a staging area outside of the reach of Chinese missiles that can currently hit American bases in Japan, Guam and Korea.
The move does put Australia in a bit of an awkward position because they heavily trade with China. China is in fact Australia’s largest trade partner which has made many Aussie analysts question the wisdom of pissing off Beijing.
Australia has welcomed the Marines with open arms and are fairly excited about the handsome war machines spending hard earned money in their bars and stores. While talks originally rumored the possibility of a permanent US base being built in Oz those plans were quickly scrapped and Australia has said it is going to stay that way. Things between China and Australia might have gotten a little bumpy with a fully functional American base in China’s backyard. Nevertheless the Marines are there to stay and whatever role they take it is sure to piss off the Chinese and at the end of the day that’s all I really care about.