(DARWIN, Australia) — Two hundred U.S. Marines arrived in northern Australia Wednesday, the first deployment of an estimated 2,500 troops the Pentagon has promised to bolster American presence in the region.
President Obama made the deal during a trip to Australia last November. At the time, Obama told that nation’s parliament, “The United States will play a larger and long-term role in shaping [the Asia-Pacific] region and its future.”
The deployment, which was done with the approval of Asia-Pacific allies, recognizes China’s growing military and economic influence that threatens not just surrounding nations but the U.S. as well.
Upon the Marines’ arrival in Darwin, Defense Minister Stephen Smith strongly dismissed speculation that his continent is acting as America’s “deputy sheriff” as some critics have suggested.
As a continuation of the six-decade military alliance with Washington, Australia said it would consider allowing the U.S. military to fly long-range spy drones over its territory.
Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio
Paul Cruickshank and Michael Pearson, CNN