After a shaky development history that included several deadly high-profile crashes, the Osprey became a symbol of the anti-base resistance on Okinawa in 2012 when it arrived on the island to replace the Marines’ aging fleet of Sea Knight helicopters. The aircraft has since been the focal point of near daily protests, and expelling it from the island was a major campaign promise of Gov. Takeshi Onaga’s during the 2014 election.
According to the US official, the Osprey crashed after clipping the back of the USS Green Bay while trying to land on the amphibious transport ship. The Okinawa-based aircraft which crashed was in Australia as part of a joint military exercise called Talisman Sabre, which has just ended in Queensland state.
The visiting US general warned that Australia's neighbours would need assistance if they were to successfully stop the threat posed by IS-inspired militants. "I think the potential for it to spread is there, we should not underestimate it," he cautioned. "It's a different kind of a threat than North Korea but it's also a threat that moves in order to survive — it doesn't own a state so it's mobile.
INDONESIA has nothing to fear from the deployment of US Marines in the Territory, the Commanding Officer of the Marine Rotational Force Darwin said on Tuesday.
Lieutenant Colonel Brian S. Middleton had just landed with the first 200 of 1250 US marines who will form the sixth and most complex US marine air ground taskforce to be deployed to the Territory.
Although reluctant to comment on the issue, Lt-Colonel Middleton said he was aware of comments made by Indonesia’s armed forces chief Gatot Nurmantyo in January questioning the US marine presence in Darwin.
General Nurmantyo said while pretending to be on a visit to Darwin he spent 90 minutes on the harbour looking at US marine facilities.
“I saw two landing bases had already been built. Even though Australia is a continental state — what does it need marines for?” he told Indonesian media.
The Indonesian general has previously criticised Australia’s hosting of US marines.
“I am aware of his comments … Indonesia has nothing to fear from US marine deployments to Darwin,” he said. “The US alliance with Australia remains strong and we know why we are here. That is for US Marines and Aussie Diggers to train and operate alongside each other.”
It is believed General Gatot Nurmantyo has political ambitions and Lt-Colonel Middleton agreed that the General’s comments were probably aimed at local consumption. However, he pulled no punches when asked about the role the 1250-strong marine air ground taskforce deployment would play if tensions between his country and North Korea escalated into direct conflict.
Lieutenant Colonel Brian S. Middleton, says the 1250 US Marine deployment to Darwin stands ready to fight if tensions between his country and North Korea escalate into direct conflict.
Lieut. Colonel Middleton said when US Marines were in forward deployment they were ready for battle.
Lieut. Colonel Middleton is leading the sixth and most complex US marine air-ground task force to be deployed to the Territory.
Along with the 1250 marines that make up the latest Darwin rotation of US troops, it will eventually include up to 13 aircraft, four tilt-rotor Ospreys, five Super Cobra helicopters and four Huey helicopters.
When asked about the North Korea stand-off he said: “We stand ready to fight.”
The marines are from 3rd Battalion, 4th Marine Regiment from Camp Pendleton, California. They will be based at Robertson Barracks, RAAF Base Darwin and Defence Establishment Berrimah.
Marine Rotational Force Darwin is mainly a series of joint exercises, training and exchanges between the US and the Australian Defence Force, but some exercises will also involve military personnel from China and other Asian countries.
The US has rotated a small force of Marines through Darwin since 2012. It was originally planned to send a full Marine Air-Ground Task Force of 2500 Marines to Australia by 2016, but the timeline has been pushed back to around 2020.