US Marines 2nd Battlation, 4th Marines training at High Range, Townsville during Exercise Southern Jackaroo. Picture: Alix Sweeney
US Marines 2nd Battlation, 4th Marines training at High Range, Townsville during Exercise Southern Jackaroo. Picture: Alix Sweeney

Marines bypass Townsville due to restrictions

Hundreds of United States Marines will no longer head to Townsville for training under COVID-19 restrictions.

Defence Minister Linda Reynolds announced the Marine Rotational Force - Darwin (MRF-D), which includes as many as 2500 Marines and MV-22 Osprey tilt-rotor aircraft deployed to the Northern Territory for six months, will resume after it was cancelled in March.

 

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In 2019, 200 American troops drawn from (MRF-D) were based in Townsville at Lavarack Barracks, training and exercising with the 3rd Brigade's 1st and 2nd Battalions, The Royal Australian Regiment.

A Department of Defence spokesman said "there were no plans" for the Marines to train outside of the Northern Territory this year.

"All incoming United States Marines will be subject to the mandatory 14-day quarantine upon arrival in Australia," he said.

 

HMAS Adelaide docked in the Port of Townsville. US Marines checking in. Picture: Alix Sweeney
HMAS Adelaide docked in the Port of Townsville. US Marines checking in. Picture: Alix Sweeney

"The United States will also undertake the additional measure of pre-screening all incoming Marines for COVID-19 four days prior to arrival.

"The Marines will train at Defence facilities in the Northern Territory throughout their deployment, away from identified biosecurity zones.

"Defence continues to work with the United States and the Northern Territory Government on planning for the deployment to determine details relating to force composition, accommodation and training, and to ­ensure activities do not impact on biosecurity zones."                                                                                                                                                    

Ms Reynolds said the Federal Government had decided a "modified" deployment could go ahead.

US Marines 2nd Battlation, 4th Marines training at High Range, Townsville during Exercise Southern Jackaroo. Picture: Alix Sweeney
US Marines 2nd Battlation, 4th Marines training at High Range, Townsville during Exercise Southern Jackaroo. Picture: Alix Sweeney

"The decision was based on Australia's record to date in managing the impacts from COVID-19, as well as strict adherence by deployed US Marines to the mandatory 14-day quarantine and other requirements," she said.

"Hosting this key Alliance activity provides interoperability benefits as well as signals our firm joint commitment to regional security.

"(US Defence) Secretary (Mark) Esper and I confirmed our respective commitment to ensuring the health and safety of Australians, with special provision for local indigenous communities in the Northern Territory."

Originally published as Marines bypass Townsville due to restrictions


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