Hawaii military deployments upended by coronavirus

At least 15 COVID-19 cases have been confirmed within the U.S. military in Hawaii, with a sailor assigned to a Pearl Harbor shore command among recent cases.

A new overseas “stop movement” order put in place by the Pentagon, meanwhile, has raised questions about current deployments of Schofield Barracks soldiers to Thailand and Iraq and Hawaii National Guard soldiers to Afghanistan and left other key Pacific assignments in doubt.

Among exceptions are scheduled deployments and redeployments of U.S. Navy vessels and embarked units, provided they are in transit for 14 days and have met requirements associated with current force health protection guidance.

Hawaii-based Marine Corps helicopters and Osprey tilt-rotor aircraft were flown to Pearl Harbor recently for staging ahead of an annual spring deployment to Australia known as Marine Rotational Force-Darwin involving 2,500 Marines.

“We have not received notification MRF-D is canceled and defer any additional questions about the status of the exercise to the (U.S.) embassy and the Australian government,” spokeswoman 1st Lt. Bridget Glynn said in an email.

the Australian government were not available for comment :|

Greens call for deployment delay of USA Marines

The majority of the 2500 personnel in this year’s US Marine Rotational Force – Darwin (MRF-D) are expected to arrive in early April, with the rest to arrive in early July.

Greens candidate for Nightcliff Billee McGinley warns the deployment should be postponed until local viral risk is better understood.

“This deployment of 2500 USA Marines comes at the worst possible time,” she said.

A spokeswoman from MRF-D said before arriving in Australia all the US service members will be screened by medical personnel for symptoms and other risk factors associated with COVID-19. Any symptomatic personnel will not deploy.

However, Ms McGinley remains sceptical if those protocols for quarantine are adequate.

“Today, we’re urging the Chief Minister to step up and assert a leadership role in managing the specific risk presented by thousands of visiting foreign servicemen.”

“We’ve called previously for the NT Chief Minister to take an active role in setting boundaries for the visiting forces. This time it’s urgent. The 2020 deployment should be immediately postponed.”

$1bn Tindal base in NT for  jet fighters as F-35 rollout fast-tracked

More than $1b additional investment in making us reliant on the USA: major runway extensions, fuel stockpiles and engineering will be designed to support “Code E” large aircraft, such as US Air Force B-52 strategic bombers and RAAF KC-30 air-to-air refuellers.

Mr Morrison told The Australian the $1.1bn spending comes on top of almost $500m that had ­already been planned for Tindal.

Under the US Force Posture Initiative signed in 2011 by the ­Gillard government and Obama administration, the US and Austral­ia committed to joint funding for military infrastructure project­s of about $2bn.

This included an increase in the annual rotation of US marines through Darwin to about 2000. The Tindal program will be funded under Australia’s contrib­ution, after the US announced it would spend $305m in upgrading infrastructure in Darwin

“These are (the) sorts of things you can do when you manage money well and invest in priorities of keeping Australia safe and building the capability of our defenc­e forces.” #FFS

Northern Australia’s value not lost on friends and rivals

It has been painfully obvious for years that our major ally, the US, major regional partner, Japan, and our major market, China, all see more strategic value in northern Australia than successive federal governments and much of our Defence establishment.

At a time when the US has been trying to reduce the burden of overseas military commitments, the “rotational deployments” of US Marine Corps troops to the Top End — now in their ninth year — are based on an American judgment that northern Australia is increasingly important to Asia’s security.

In the face of a more aggressive China with stronger military forces, the US is dispersing its own forces in Asia. While it’s right to say that 2500 marines is hardly a threat to Beijing, it’s an important demonstration of America’s commitment to Australia and Southeast Asian security.


U.S. Marines conducts GMLRS shoot in Australia for first time

The U.S. Marines with 3rd Battalion, 12th Marine Regiment, a part of Marine Rotational Force-Darwin (MRF-D), fired Guided Multiple Launch Rocket System munitions, known as GMLRS, during Southern Reach, at Bradshaw Field Training Area, Northern Territory, Australia on August 15, 2019.

The HIMARS Marines fired two GMLRS in Australia for the first time ever, according to Cpl. Kallahan Morris. The HIMARS is a weapons system made up of the M142, five-ton chassis vehicle and can carry either a launcher pod of six rockets or one MGM-140 Army Tactical Missile System (ATACMS).

The live-fire training conducted was over an area of 3,282 square miles.

HIMARS is participating in MRF-D for the first time. These Marines and equipment provide MRF-D an extended range precision strike capability that can further shape the battlespace.

the HIMARS Marines with MRF-D conducted multiple fire missions, shot two GMLRS rounds, and enjoyed training in the heat of Australia’s Northern Territory dry-season.