Two hundred U.S. marines landed in the north-western Australian port of Darwin. They will be there on a six month rotation and will take part in joint exercises with Australian forces.
As part of the U.S. imperial design to contain China and devote more resources to the rapidly developing South East Asia area the U.S. will raise its presence in Australia to 2,500 by 2017. Of course the U.S. and Australia vehemently deny the strengthened ties and troop deployment have anything to do with China.
The Australia defence minister Stephen Smith who welcomed the troops also said that the mood in the area was ''one of very strong enthusiasm''. Julia Gillard the Prime Minister downplayed the increase in U.S. troops claiming that the Marine deployment was''an evolution of existing exercises and activities'' between the two countries and the continuation of a sixty year security relationship with the U.S.
This is the first time the United States has committed to a permanent rotation of its forces through Australia. The U.S. already has bases in South Korea, Japan, Guam and will probably send more troops to countries such as the Philippines as well.
After Australian officials denied the move has anything to do with China the Australian defence minister said the troops were needed because Australia (and the U.S. no doubt) had to come to grips with the rise of India and China and the increase in political and economic clout of the region. There are reports as well that Australia may grant permission for a U.S. air base on Australian islands in the Indian Ocean.
The base would be in the Cocos Islands. It would allow drone and other flights into the region. Australian officials claimed these plans were long term and down the track. As of now they said there are no U.S. bases in Australia. For more see this article.
Although the U.S. move may irritate China trade between the two countries is unlikely to suffer. China is Australia's largest trading partner and hence the attempts to assure China that the deployment has nothing to do with containing China. What would the U.S think if China had bases in Canada, Mexico, Cuba etc.?