US Marines leave Darwin after largest rotation yet

General

A US marine smiles and waves at the camera while lining up on the tarmac to board a plane.

The latest contingent of US Marines are leaving the Northern Territory after a rotation that for the first time included combined training with Australian forces in responding to natural disasters.

About 300 marines flew out of Darwin’s RAAF base today, the first of the 1,250-strong contingent to depart after six months in the Top End.

Their departure marks the end of the sixth rotation of American troops to the the NT under a deal struck in 2011 as part of a US military “pivot” to the Asia-Pacific region.

Marine numbers were initially expected to reach 2,500 by 2017 but so far, have not risen above 1,250.

US soldiers march in a line out of an aircraft hanger onto the tarmac.

Since arriving in April, the marine force took part in 12 exercises with their Australian counterparts and also worked with armed forces from China, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.

US and Australian units also practised a joint response in a natural disaster situation.

The Australian Defence department said details for next year’s rotation and beyond were subject to discussions between the Australian and US Governments.