First US Marines touch down in Darwin as deployment begins
THE first set of US Marines have touched down in Darwin as part of the annual Marine Rotational Force Darwin exercise, which will see them posted in the NT for three months.
North Command group captain Stewart Dowrie said all Marines part of the MRFD would be screened on arrival before going into a 14-day quarantine on the barracks, away from Australian personnel, according to NT protocol.
"The first group of just 200 Marines touched down at RAAF Darwin this morning, they are currently going through the process of being received in the customs and biosecurity checks … they are also going through NT Government health department supported swab testing … that will make sure every marine is excluded form having COVID-19," he said.
"Prior to leaving the quarantine facility at the end of 14 days they will again be tested.
"Over the next eight weeks groups of Marines, 200 to 300 at a time, will go through the same process building up to a force between 1100 and 1200."
The 1200-strong contingent is just half of the 2500 originally planned for deployment in Darwin in 2020, before the coronavirus crisis took hold.
Cptn Dowrie said piecing together a MRFD rotation for 2020 would help strengthen the connection between the US and Australian defence forces.
"It's a great opportunity for US Military, US Marines and the Australian Defence Force to train together, to work on deepening their operability and to be able to work together to respond to crisis in the region," he said.
"They've loved coming to the NT for their training and want to come back.
"It's no secret (that) while COVID-19 has been a challenge for the world, mother nature has not stood still."
All US Marines will have their own rooms for the duration of their quarantine.
According to a KPMG report, the 2016 deployment of 1250 US Marines injected $7.5 million into the NT economy.
Originally published as First US Marines touch down in NT as Darwin deployment begins