The U.S. Department of Defense has announced it will begin stationing Marines in northern Australia, at existing Australian facilities in the city of Darwin. The roughly 1,000 Marines will complement the larger U.S. Marine force permanently stationed in Japan as part of the Pentagon’s 300,000-strong Pacific Command.
The move to Darwin is part of a broad, ongoing realignment of U.S. Pacific forces that will spread them across a wider range of better-protected bases. The Pentagon hopes that more widely dispersed troops will be better protected in the event of war with China. In recent years the People’s Liberation Army has added hundreds of medium- and long-range ballistic missiles. Experts expect China would bombard U.S. facilities to prevent American intervention in a Chinese move against, say, Taiwan or one of the disputed South China Sea islands.