Former Marine colonel pitches Australian-American amphibious force in western Pacific

The U.S. and Australia should establish a combined amphibious force including 2,000 Marines and a similar number of sailors based in Darwin, Australia, to build regional support for countering China’s ambitions in the western Pacific, according to a former Marine colonel.

Grant Newsham, now a senior researcher with the Japan Forum for Strategic Studies, Tokyo, said Monday that the Marine Corps, which rotated 2,500 Marines through Darwin during the summer, needs to see Australia as more than just a great place to train.

Berger wrote that U.S. “forward bases and legacy infrastructure within the adversary’s weapons engagement zone are now extremely vulnerable.”

Newsham said an “Australian-American Amphibious Force” supported by amphibious ships from both nations could solve that problem. Such a force could be home-ported in Darwin along with facilities such as American schools and shops, he said.

The new amphibious force wouldn’t require stationing an aircraft carrier Down Under, Newsham said. Air support for the Marines could be provided by aircraft operating from bases in the Northern Territory or new F-35B stealth jets flying off the decks of amphibious ships, he said.

James Holmes, a strategist at the Naval War College, wrote Dec. 9 in National Interest magazine that concerns about China could boost Australian support for a permanent U.S. military presence Down Under. “Stationing military forces overseas inspires trust. In turn, an unbreakable bond between America and Australia could give China pause the next time it contemplates making mischief,” he wrote.