The Australian government has reportedly said in a statement that they have granted an exemption to the US Marine Corps from coronavirus travel restrictions. As per international media reports, thousands of US Marines are expected to travel to Australia in the coming weeks. Mark Esper, US Defense Secretary said on Twitter that the annual Marine Rotational Force-Darwin will be resumed in which nearly 2500 Marines have been deployed to Australia’s Northern Territory for six months during the country’s dry season.
Great conversation with #Australia MinDef @lindareynoldswa today. In the face of #COVID19, our #UnbreakableAlliance remains strong with the recent approval of the @USMC @MrfDarwin rotation and continued Alliance cooperation for a #FreeAndOpenIndoPacific.— @EsperDoD (@EsperDoD) May 6, 2020
Spoke with US Secretary of Defense @EsperDOD where we reaffirmed our Alliance is based on shared values and close friendship.— Linda Reynolds (@lindareynoldswa) May 6, 2020
While responding to #COVID19 at home, we’re maintaining force readiness and working together to support our neighbours in the #Pacific and S/E Asia 🇦🇺🇺🇸 pic.twitter.com/8qGIHvnm5n
According to the reports, the deployment had been temporarily suspended in late March after Australia closed its borders completely to all non-citizens and non-residents due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Chuck Little, the spokesperson of the US Marine Corps Forces, Pacific, reportedly said in a statement that the Marines will undergo 14 days of compulsory quarantine and face other requirements. Little added that the Marine Corps is committed to keep an eye on the health and safety protocols of its forces as well as the Australian people, including local indigenous communities.
Little did not mention anything about when exactly the deployment would resume or how many Marines would be taking part. According to the reports, 2500 US Marines were deployed to the Australian base in Darwin last year and it is expected to be similar this year too. Some of the equipment deployed during the 2019 rotation included MV-22 Osprey aircraft and advanced radars and artillery systems.
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