US refutes showing off military strength in Oz
Sydney: The head of the United States Marines has tried to play down apprehensions that American troop build-up in Australia is an act of showing off their military strength.
US Marine Corps commandant General James F Amos said on Thursday his troops would work with Australian soldiers on humanitarian and disaster relief projects as well as building ‘responsible behaviour in the Asia-Pacific area’.
Amos maintained his visit to Australia, Japan, the Philippines and South Korea was not a case of sabre-rattling, but building ties.
“I don't see it as sabre rattling, I see it as partnerships,” The Sydney Morning Herald quoted Amos, as saying.
The number of US troops rotating through Darwin will increase in coming years to reach 2500 by 2017. At the moment there are just 200 members of Fox Company. They arrived in April.
US ambassador Jeffrey Bleich also said the US believes Australia's neighbours are relaxed about the build-up.
Bleich said: “It's not just that people aren't concerned; they are actually very positive about it all over the region. We've just finished exercises with people from Indonesia, Singapore and Malaysia. This is an opportunity for us all to train together, get to know each other better, and that reduces the chance of misunderstanding.”